The stage is set for an explosive Liga MX Final as No. 1 seed Leon takes on the No. 2 seed Tigres.
The first leg of the Liga MX final kicks off at the Estadio Universitario Thursday night and the return match is scheduled for Estadio Leon on Sunday. Leon has not been in a final in five years when it won the second of its back-to-back championships. The Tigres have won three titles in the past five years, hoisting the trophy after the Apertura 2015, the Apertura 2016 and the Apertura 2017 seasons.
Leon’s success this season was built on balance. The Esmeraldas had the best offensive team in the Liga MX, scoring 41 goals, and boasting the league’s leading scorer – versatile left-footed midfielder Angel Mena (14 goals and 10 assists). The Ecuadorian magician started all 17 games, filling in the gap left by the departure of legendary striker Mauro Boselli, the team’s No. 2 all-time leading scorer.
León’s No. 13 became the first non-striker to lead Liga MX in goals scored in eight years. The last player to achieve that feat was midfielder Angel Reyna who scored 13 goals in the Clausura 2011 for América.
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Mena is in his second consecutive Liga MX final; he was a member of the Cruz Azul team that lost to America last season but he only played 10 minutes. This time around, Mena will be expected to play a significant role. The clever playmaker and his offensive mates should cause a plenty of problems for Tigres defenders, although striker Jose Juan Macias will be absent since he reported to Mexico’s Under-20 team that is preparing for the upcoming U-20 World Cup in Poland.
On the other side of the field, Andre-Pierre Gignac will look to upstage Mena. Gignac is a lethal forward and he has been in four prior Liga MX finals with the Tigres, winning three. He was the league’s leading scorer last season after netting 14 times for the Tigres.
Although Gignac did not put up big numbers this season due to a knee injury, the French striker is poised to hoist his fourth Liga MX trophy since joining the team in 2015 (Apertura 2015, Apertura 2016 and Apertura 2017). Gignac scored 7 goals and added 1 assist in 12 games (he was out six weeks with his knee injury and is still rounding into shape). As an extra incentive, Gignac could become the all-time leading scorer in Tigres history if he scores twice in the final. Gignac has 103 goals wearing a Tigres jersey, one less than “El Jefe” Tomas Boy (104 goals).
On Thursday night at the Estadio Universitario, all eyes will be on both top goal scorers. It will be intriguing to see which player will thrive in the spotlight.