The Leon vs Toluca first leg Liga MX semifinal playoff match will take place on Thursday, May 8, 2014 (6:05 PM Pacific) at the Nou Camp in Leon. Leon are the defending Liga MX champions, and are set to take on #2 seeded Toluca, after eliminating Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals, the team originally favored to win the Liga MX title.
Leon qualified to the playoffs with just 23 points, thanks to its Week 17 away victory over Xolos, and the fact that multiple teams were unable to knock them out of the 8th playoff spot. Nonetheless, Leon are much better than their #8 seed implies, they did poorly in the regular season, because the team was also participating in the Copa Libertadores. After getting knocked out by Bolivar in the first knockout round, Matosas was able to focus his squad 100% on the Liga MX.
Leon went up against Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals, the #1 seed and the team which was, by far, the most consistent squad throughout the season. Nonetheless, Leon was able to knock out Cruz Azul by earning a 2-2 away draw in Mexico City, giving it a victory due to away goals. Matosas now needs to take his motivated squad and earn a positive result at home.
On the other side of the pitch we have Toluca, which qualified as the #2 seed, and reached the semifinals after defeating Xolos 3-1 in the quarterfinals. Coach Cardozo should be very happy that his team was able to overcome the Tijuana squad. Toluca looked absolutely overwhelmed in Tijuana, and were extremely lucky to come out with a 0-0 draw. Back at home, Toluca played a smart game and defeated Tijuana 3-1.
Cardozo must ensure his defense is up to the task of defending against Leon, Matosas’ team will not miss as often as Tijuana did in the quarterfinals. Toluca must look for an away goal, keep the score close, and wait to seal the deal at the Estadio Nemesio Diez.
The key players to watch in this match will be the goalkeepers. Talavera was outstanding in the series against Tijuana, specially at the Estadio Caliente, and he could prove to be the difference maker for Toluca. Leon’s William Yarbrough was also instrumental in Leon’s victory over Cruz Azul, and will need to have a good match against Toluca, and hope to stop any away goals.
Leon vs Toluca Prediction
I expect Cardozo will use a defensive formation that will clog up the midfield, in the hopes of retaining the ball, slowing down the game, and getting a key away goal. For his part, Matosas will play his typical attacking style, as he will attempt to have Leon earn a victory at home.
Leon proved in the series against Cruz Azul that they never give up, however, in the Copa Libertadores against Bolivar, they showed that they can be stopped with a smart, defensive lineup. Cardozo is well aware of this, and will attempt to come out of the Nou Camp with a draw. The Leon vs Toluca semifinal will end in a 1-1 draw, which will leave it all up for a decisive Sunday match at the Nemesio Diez.
Leon vs Toluca Television
The Leon vs Toluca match will be televised on Mun2 at 6:05 PM Pacific.
Leon vs Toluca Highlights
The Leon vs Toluca match highlights will be uploaded as soon as the match ends.