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Club America has to beat Herediano by a 3-0 score at home to advance to the CCL final, while Tigres have already qualified to the next stage of the Libertadores Cup
Big night ahead as Club America and Tigres UANL carry the hopes of a nation
04/08/2015
 
Herediano vs Club America

Liga MX teams have been hugely inconsistent in continental competitions in the 2014/15 season.


In the CONCACAF Champions League Cruz Azul and Club Leon were sent packing in the group stage and Pachuca were undone by Montreal Impact’s 92nd minute goal in the quarter final.


In the Copa Libertadores, Morelia were bounced out in the First Round after losing 3-1 on aggregate to Bolivia’s The Strongest, while Atlas look like they will soon be following them after Tuesday night’s 3-1 loss to Colo Colo left them with just three points from four games in Group 1.


It means America and Tigres are the last two standing, and America already are on distinctly shaky ground.

Domestic troubles and continental comfort

America and Tigres were the two finalists in the 2014 Apertura, but neither have found 2015 to be as straightforward as they would have hoped.


Tigres were ultimately beaten by America last December, but only after a 16-game undefeated streak that took them from tenth place in Week 6 to joint first at the end of the regular season. For their part, America were imperious – they led the regular season from Week 1 to Week 17, and with the exception of a slight hiccup against Pumas in the quarter final they never looked like they could be beaten to the title.


This term, America and Tigres have both floundered. America have struggled to adapt to Gustavo Matosas new philosophies, while a grueling Copa Libertadores travel schedule, along with long term injuries to Juninho and Jose ‘Gringo’ Torres, meant Tigres have been unable to find any kind of rhythm or consistency. They are both improving, but their places in the post-season are far from guaranteed.


It almost comes as a surprise, therefore, that these are the two sides left flying the flag for Mexico. Tigres boss Ricardo ´Tuca´ Ferretti, who is renowned for disregarding international competitions, has played his strongest eleven throughout the South America showpiece event, while America had made light work of a group which included Guatemalan side Comunicaciones and the Puerto Ricans Bayamon before thrashing Deportivo Saprissa 5-0 in the quarter final.

Semi-final woes

Herediano vs Club America

Despite the continental positivity, it all went wrong for America in their semi-final first leg. They were beaten 3-0 away from home by Costa Rican side Herediano, a team that only entered the competition at the last minute after Belize’s Belmopan Bandits were excluded.


They had to play much of the tie with ten men after Michael Arroyo was shown as 29th minute red card, and despite going in at half time at 0-0, the heat, atmosphere and humidity proved too much for their depleted side in the second half.


It’s left them with a hugely difficult, though not impossible, task in the second leg. America are more than capable of beating almost anyone 3-0 at the Azteca, but despite the temptation to go gung-ho, they have to tread carefully. The Champions League operates the away goals rule, meaning that if Herediano can grab a goal America would need five.


There may be thousands of Mexicans around the country who will be secret America fans for the night. MLS side Montreal Impact are into the final after beating Alajuelense last night, and while America are a side that most Mexicans love to hate, for many the old brag that an MLS side has never won the Champions League is one that they’d dearly love to keep using. America are surely capable of dispatching Montreal with relative ease – whereas a Herediano vs Montreal final would give the Canadians a great chance of victory.


Soccerly prediction – America 4 (4) – (3) 0 Herediano AET.

Kids or no kids

Tigres

Ferretti deserves great praise for the way he’s approached the Copa Libertadores. They won three and drawn one of their four games so far and have already qualified for the knockout stages.


Therein lies the problem – what does Ferretti do in his final two games? Tigres welcome Argentine giants River Plate to El Volcan tonight for a sell-out game that fans have been looking forward to for months. It is doubtful whether those fans, or indeed the players or the manager, would have thought that qualification would already be in the bag by the time this game rolled round.


With Tigres’ league form slowly improving, you can be certain that Ferretti will take the kids to Peru for their final group game against Juan Aurich – but tonight poses a more difficult conundrum.


A win for Tigres would see River Plate eliminated and cement their place as one of the surprise favorites to win the competition – something no Mexican side has ever done. But a defeat wouldn’t be anything to worry about, and with a huge Liga MX tie against Cruz Azul on the horizon, will Ferretti risk tiredness and injuries when it’s already job done?


Expect an extremely defensive performance from a team made up of fringe players and reserves.


Soccerly prediction – Tigres 0-0 River Plate

 
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