Away from the debates around who are the favorites and which sides are in-form, one of the most intriguing questions about the playoffs is about Tigres’ commitment to the tournament.
Tuca Ferretti’s men were runners-up to Club America in the Apertura, and are arguably the most dangerous side in the league on current form. While a quarter-final against Santos is certainly not guaranteed, the real fun and games could start in the semi-final.
Tigres are currently the only side to have booked a place in the quarter-finals of the Copa Libertadores, where they will face either Colombian giants Atletico Nacional or the Ecuadorian side Emelec. The game would directly clash with the Liga MX semis.
With CONMEBOL and the FMF both seemingly unwilling to move games and help ease the fixture backlog, it could mean Tigres play two games in two or three days.
Fans want the club to prioritize the Libertadores – the league is always there, but Copa Libertadores qualification isn’t so frequent. Given their participation in the next CONCACAF Champions League, the earliest Tigres could next play in the Copa Libertadores is 2017.
Tuca might go for both – naming a second string for the away game in South America and hoping a defensive, slow-paced, energy saving performance by the first team can see them through at home.
There is an argument that the Liga MX should be doing more for sides in the South American tournament. It’s the only major non-European club competition that is followed by European fans, and leads to infinitely more prestige and sponsorship money that the CONCACAF Champions League – not to mention that success in it can help attract better players.
Something has to change – the Liga MX cannot afford to be discarded every year by sides who are on a good Copa Libertadores run and in the playoffs – especially if that side is one of the favorites for the domestic title. Time will tell if they can learn the lesson.