Pachuca won all eight of its home games and likely must win against the visiting Tigres if it hopes to advance to the semifinals.
Pachuca is back in the playoffs for the first time since November 2016, primarily because they were unbeatable at home. But the Tuzos only earned the No. 7 seed, because they were one of the worst road teams in Liga MX.
The Tigres battled injuries throughout the Clausura 2019 yet managed to claim the No. 2 seed with points to spare. Even so, a tough loss to bitter rivals Monterrey in the Concacaf Champions League final last week has them heading into the playoffs on a downer.
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These two teams open their quarterfinals match-up in Pachuca and the Tuzos figure they MUST win since they were winless on the road. Their 8-0-0 record will give them some confidence, but the Tigres were the league’s second-best road team, so it won’t be easy.
León 1, Pachuca 2
The Tuzos finished the season winless on the road although they held their own for much of the match against league-leading León. However, the Esmeraldas had nothing to play for except pride and still came away with the win. Raúl López scored an own goal to put Pachuca behind and the Tuzos equalized early in the second half, only to see Joel Campbell knock home the winner two minutes later.
Tigres 2, Guadalajara 1
The Tigres shook off the CCL disappointment and dispatched the Chivas with relative ease (no surprise there). Striker André-Pierre Gignac found the net in his second game back after a knee injury caused him to miss 6 weeks. Also returning from injury row, Lucas Zelarayán scored too.
Clausura 2019 result
Tigres 3, Pachuca 0
Tuzos defender Janine Barreiro was the goat in this Matchday 9 contest, scoring two own goals in the first half and Pachuca never recovered. Guido Pizarro netted for the Tigres in minute 42 and the home team coasted to an easy victory to remain atop the table, while the Tuzos fell into 9th place.
López – Barreiro – Murillo – Garcia
Aguirre – Hernández – V. Guzmán
Jara – Ulloa
Edwin Cardona has become the quarterback of this team and he’ll need to get everyone involved, especially midfielders Víctor Guzmán and Erick Aguirre who need to get forward in attack. Wide back Raúl López and Manny García will have to be on their games since the Tigres like to attack from the flanks. Coach Martín Palermo has a decent bench, so he might go to Angelo Sagal or Pablo López if he needs a spark.
Rodríguez – Ayala – Salcedo – Dueñas
Pizarro – Carioca
Valencia – Vargas – Quiñones
Defenders Hugo Ayala and Carlos Salcedo have had some shaky moments the past several weeks and communication on the back line appears to be lacking. They must be tight or the Tuzos could take advantage of their miscues. Midfielders Guido Pizarro and Rafa Carioca will be tasked with shadowing Cardona and making sure he has little time to survey the field before attacking.
Pachuca: Forwards Franco Jara and Leo Ulloa must put pressure on the Tigres’ back line and try to force errors, because the Tuzos likely need to win the first leg to have a chance in the series. Jara led the team with 7 goals, Cardona and Ulloa followed with 6.
Tigres: Striker André-Pierre Gignac is just getting his legs under him after overcoming a knee injury. If he can show some form, he’ll attract double teams that will open space for Enner Valencia and Edu Vargas.
Pachuca enters this series figuring it must win its home game – maybe even thinking it has to be by a wide margin – because they have been atrocious on the road. If they force the attack too much and get impatient, they could make mistakes. The Tigres will likely lay in wait and try to play a possession game in hopes of frustrating the Tuzos. If the Tigres can avoid errors at the back, I like their chances to come away with a draw.