Liga MX playoffs: Champs visit Puebla, Chivas host Pumas

Apertura 2023 quarterfinals continue with final two first-leg matches
Puebla brings a three-game win streak into Thursday's match against Tigres but the defending Liga MX champs are a savvy bunch.
Puebla brings a three-game win streak into Thursday's match against Tigres but the defending Liga MX champs are a savvy bunch. / Jam Media/GettyImages

The first legs of the Liga MX quarterfinals conclude Thursday night with Tigres at Puebla and Guadalajara playing host to the Pumas. 

On Wednesday night, No. 1 seed América battled No. 8 León to a 2-2 draw while 7th-seeded Atlético de San Luis threw a shut-out against 2nd-seeded Monterrey, claiming a 1-0 victory.

The big news ahead of tonight’s first match is that Tigres striker André-Pierre Gignac will not be available for the defending Liga MX champions.

The French goleador came up lame during training this week, an injury vaguely described as left thigh and hip complaints. There’s no word on whether Gignac would be available for the return match on Sunday.

Can Puebla break 6th-seed jinx or can Tigres complete historic male-female double?

Since the Liga MX converted its calendar to two short-season tournaments back in summer 1996, the No. 6 seed has never managed to hoist the trophy. Only six times in the 53 playoffs since the shift has a sixth-seeded club reached the final and not one was able to celebrate.

Puebla will carry the burden of the 6th-seed jinx into its quarterfinals matches against the No. 3 seed Tigres. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Universitario with Nicolás Ibáñez – the player most likely to start in place of Gignac – finding the equalizer I minute 90+3.

As for the Liga MX champs, they’ll be aiming to complete a male-female double, replicating what the Lady Tigres did last weekend – claim the Liga MX Femenil crown.

Since the inception of the Liga MX Femenil, only three times has a club’s men’s and women’s teams won the title in the same season – América (Apertura 2018), Tigres (Clausura 2019), and Monterrey (Apertura 2019).

So with the Lady Tigres having notched another title (their sixth in 12 seasons), the stage is set for the defending champs to become the first franchise to win a male-female double on two separate occasions.

No. 5 Guadalajara looking for revenge against No. 4 UNAM

The Chivas play host to the Pumas with Guadalajara aiming to pay back the Pumas for the 1-0 loss in the season finale. That victory lifted UNAM into 4th place and dropped "El Rebaño Sagrado" into 5th place, giving "los universitarios" home-field advantage in Sunday's series finale.

Guadalajara had seemed to recover from a midseason slump, going 4-1-1 heading into the Matchday 17 contest at the CU. However, that night the Pumas played sterling defense, limiting Guadalajara to 2 shots on goal, one of which was a penalty kick by star striker Alexis Vega that UNAM goalie Julio González stopped in minute 77.

Of course, the slate is swept clean for the playoffs and Guadalajara is intent on putting its stamp on the payoffs once again. Last season, the Chivas stunned Liga MX observers by marching to the Finals, shocking 2nd-seeded América in the semifinals before coming up short in overtime to Tigres

Next. América, León settle for draw; San Luis edges Monterrey. América, León settle for draw; San Luis edges Monterrey. dark

UNAM missed out on the postseason entirely last season, but under Antonio Mohamed the Pumas have become a well-rounded team that can beat you with flair as well as with grit.