Andre-Pierre Gignac (pictured) and Tigres will host Pumas in the first leg of their Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal series on February 22, 2017. (Photo: Straffon Images)
SAN NICOLAS DE LOS GARZA, Mexico – If there is one team that knows how to get the job done in a knockout scenario, it is current Mexican champion Tigres.
Since the 2015 Liga MX Apertura, UNAL has competed in a total of 10 two-legged series across Liga MX and Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League play, emerging victorious in eight.
The secret to Tigres’ success in those series has been its defense.
In the 2015 Liga MX Apertura, Tigres claimed aggregate victories of 3-1 vs. Chiapas in the quarterfinals, 2-0 vs. Toluca in the semifinals and then 4-4 in the final vs. Pumas, which Tigres won in a penalty shootout.
Tigres’ march to the 2015/16 SCCL final saw head coach Ricardo Ferretti’s men record a 3-1 aggregate win vs. Real Salt Lake in the quarterfinals, 2-0 over Queretaro in the semifinals before a 4-1 aggregate defeat in the final to Club America.
Following a narrow 4-3 aggregate defeat in the 2016 Liga MX Clausura quarterfinals to local rival Monterrey, Tigres paraded to the 2016 Apertura title with aggregate wins of 7-2 vs. Pumas in the quarterfinals, 3-1 vs. Leon in the semifinals and a penalty shootout triumph over Club America in the final following a 2-2 aggregate scoreline.
Most impressive has been Tigres’ ability to record a clean sheet in these knockout round matches. The Felinos secured four clean sheets in the 2015 Apertura Liguilla, three in the 2015/16 SCCL Championship Stage and two in the 2016 Apertura Liguilla.
With Tigres set to host Pumas in the first leg of the 2016/17 SCCL quarterfinals on Wednesday, Ferretti says that his team are once again returning to their battle-hardened “Liguilla” mentality.
“This series is two matches as if you were in a Liguilla,” he said. “They are 180 minutes, so they are lived and played in a distinct manner to what we have been doing this season. Here you have to make the very most of the first match that is adequate enough for the following return leg.”