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With all my apologies to the Toluca fans, they don’t have a great chance here. Toluca had miserable defensive numbers all season and will now take on arguably the most talented attacking team in the western hemisphere.
Tigres are a completely different beast by the time they make the playoffs and shouldn’t have much trouble pushing Toluca aside. Toluca could make things interesting with an unexpected goal (or maybe two) but in the end it will be Tigres who will take the win.
In contrast to the Liga MX playoff games on Saturday, which could prove to be close, Sunday should end with big wins for the strong favorites.
Tigres will be one of those favorites. Powered by a front line carried by marquee striker Andre-Pierre Gignac, Tigres always seems like a guarantee when it comes to predicting who will qualify for the playoffs in recent years. In fact, the only real complaint about their last run in the playoffs is that the number 6 no longer took just one point in the regular season that would have booked them an automatic place in the next round of the playoffs.
Toluca, on the other hand, may be happy to be invited to the playoff party. Despite having one of the worst defenses in the league this season, their average attack managed to score just enough goals to sneak their way into the playoffs in 11th place.
When Toluca looked at the regular season stats for Liga MX, he was last dead when it came down to 27. 24 tally. In short: Toluca should give up the most goals in Apertura 2020.
Sure, their approach has resulted in some fun high scoring games too, but most of the time Los Diablos Rojos has found itself on the receiving end of a brawl from its opponents. Against Tigres, they may not even have a great chance of creating chances in the final third considering how well balanced their squad is.
But what about Tigres’ xGA? With a 17. A total of 99 Tigres had the second best expected goals against a rating in the League MX. It’s a sign of a good defense, and obviously their attack wasn’t bad either.
With 27 goals in the Apertura, only two other teams scored more than Tigres this season. Her front was also bolstered by one of the season’s revelations, Nico « Diente » Lopez. The winger / striker occasionally played as a substitute and ended the regular season with six goals and two assists in just 396 minutes.
On the net, Tigres’ backline can also rely on seasoned goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman to be ready to take over the net again. As one of the top players in the league, the Argentina international is talented enough to fix potential but also unexpected rifts.
It happened before. There have been a few times this year where an opponent caught Tigres off guard and snuck into a late goal to end the game.
The good news for Tigres is that even after a draw after 90 minutes, they remain favorites in a shoot-out.
If any of the playoff games this weekend ends in a draw at the end of regular time, the game will be awarded a penalty straight away. Tigres – with names like Gignac, Lopez and Guzman in the squad – are the last team in the Liga MX that everyone wants to face in a shoot-out.
What a good backup plan for Tigres is. If something goes surprisingly wrong, they should still be able to rely on seasoned veterans who are unaffected by the pressures of punishment.
The freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in American and Mexican football. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports, and several other publications. In addition to writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast.
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Deportivo Toluca F. . C.. . , Tigres UANL, Liga MX, André-Pierre Gignac, TUDN
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