Tigres’ long wait over as Liga MX final opens Thursday

Action from Tigres last outing in the Liga MX Apertura playoffs, as Hugo Ayala (front) is pressured by a Leon defender on December 3, 2016, in San Nicolas de los Garza. (Photo: Tomas Palacios/Straffon Images)

MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Although Club America is coming off three games at the 2016 FIFA Club World Cup and a lengthy trip back to Mexico from Japan, Tigres is expecting the host Aguilas to field a full-strength side when they square off in the first leg of the 2016 Liga MX Apertura final on Thursday.

UANL has been out of action since defeating visiting Leon, 2-1, in the semifinals on December 3, while Club America has been mixing it up with the likes of Real Madrid and Atletico Nacional.

“We all like to be in competition,” Tigres defender Jose Rivas said at a Wednesday press conference. “When we played in the (2015 Copa) Libertadores there were also long trips, but nothing like playing twice in little time and so far away, but I don’t think that it will affect them (Club America).”

The 32-year-old veteran defender stressed the need for his team to play intelligently at the Estadio Azteca. In the 2014 Apertura final – also against Club America -- Tigres was reduced to eight men in the second leg. That’s something Rivas says Tigres must avoid this time around.

“First and most important is that nobody gets sent off for us, because if playing 11 on 11 is difficult, imagine yourself playing with 10 or nine,” he commented. “Within the team, we have already talked about those finals and we hope it goes better for us.”

After a long stretch without a competitive game, Tigres is excited to get back on the field.

“Anxious, that is the word,” Rivas concluded. “We have spent three weeks out of action waiting for the final and finally it has arrived.”

In their last meetings in a final, Club America prevailed over Tigres in both: 2014 Liga MX Apertura (agg: 3-1) and the 2015/16 SCCL (agg: 4-1).