And then there were two
Guadalajara and Tigres will reprise their exciting Clausura 2017 final (won 4-3 by the Chivas) after each team eliminated their most bitter rivals in the Liga MX semifinals.
“Los felinos” survived a “Clásico Regiomontano,” knocking off No. 1 seeded Monterrey to reach their 13th Liga MX final, while “El Rebaño Sagrado” stunned second-seeded América to claim “Super Clásico” bragging rights. The comeback win earned the Chivas a ninth finals appearance.
Guadalajara might be a mild favorite solely because they host the return match on Sunday, but the Chivas played at a consistently high level through much of the Clausura 2023.
As for Tigres, they had to overcome an early-season coaching change (Diego Cocca left to take over El Tri) and a four-game losing streak that forced successor Marco Antonio Ruiz out after Matchday 14.
Chivas dominate in Liga MX playoffs, but recent history a different story
These two franchises have met three previous times in the postseason with Guadalajara winning all three: the Clausura 2007 quarterfinals (6-3); the Clausura 2011 quarterfinals (4-2); the Clausura 2017 final (4-3).
However, in the past 10 meetings across the last five years, Tigres have enjoyed the upper hand. The Northern Giants boast a 6-1-3 record against the Tapatío side.
Of course, the Chivas took this season’s clash 2-1 on the road at “El Volcán” (never an easy feat, though Tigres were a disappointing 3-2-4 at home this season).
The red-and-white-striped guys topped the Cats in scoring during the regular season (28-20), despite playing most of the time without a proper striker. Midfielder Víctor Guzmán was the leading scorer for the Chivas – 7 goals – but three came from the penalty spot.
Guadalajara has had trouble finding the net in the Liga MX playoffs, scoring just four times in four games. And three of their goals came from defenders.
In contrast, Tigres had difficulty scoring during the regular season – 10 teams scored more than their 20 goals – but have revved up the offense during the postseason. “Los felinos” have 8 goals in five games with midfielder Sebastián Córdova playing the hero (Córdova has scored once in each of his team’s five games).
In addition, both clubs play disciplined defense: Tigres conceded 17 goals (third-fewest in Liga MX) while Guadalajara gave up 18 goals (fourth-fewest).
Odds-and-ends for trivia buffs
Guadalajara’s Veljko Paunovic has guided “The Sacred Flock” to the ultimate series in his very first season in Liga MX, while Tigres coach Robert Dante Siboldi took over the reins at “The U” a little over a month ago.
Tigres host the opener on Thursday night and “los regios” are 7-4-1 at home in Finals (their only loss came in 1980, a 1-0 loss to eventual Liga MX champs Cruz Azul).
Tigres striker André-Pierre Gignac is fourth on the all-time Liga MX playoffs scoring list. The Frenchman will be playing in his sixth final and has 6 goals in 10 appearances. One goal will tie him with Humberto Suazo and Carlos Hermosillo for second on the list behind José Saturnino Cardozo (9 goals).
There are six Olympic bronze medalists on the finalists’ rosters, three for each team. Córdova, Diego Lainez and Jesús Angulo with Tigres and Roberto Alvarado, Fernando Beltrán and Alexis Vega with Guadalajara.