The Leon vs Pachuca Liga MX Final will take place this Thursday, May 15, 2014 (6:05 PM Pacific) at the Nou Camp in Leon. Two teams that, frankly, no one expected would make it this far, will be disputing the Clausura 2014 championship. Not to devalue what each team has done in the playoffs, Leon and Pachuca were clearly superior to their rivals, however, both had a mediocre season, and it shows in their playoff seed. Even though Leon (#8 seed), and Pachuca (#6 seed) barely scraped into the playoffs, none of that matters anymore, it is all about winning the Liga MX championship.
This Liga MX Final has many interesting factors to consider. First, if Leon were to win-out, they would become only the second team to win two consecutive (short) Liga MX titles, something which only Pumas has achieved. Secondly, not since 2002, when America and Necaxa fought for the championship, had we seen two teams owned by the same person dispute the title. Carlos Slim, the world’s wealthiest man, is certainly happy, he is guaranteed a trophy, regardless of the end result.
Pachuca & Leon, How They Got to the Final
Leon made an appearance in the playoffs thanks to a series of fortunate events in Week 17, where every result went in their favor. Afterwards, Matosas’ squad played with lots of grit and plenty of attacking football. Leon was able to overcome #1 seeded Cruz Azul in the quarterfinals with an aggregate score of 3-3 (away goals), and then shutout Toluca 2-0 in the semifinals. Now, Leon must take full advantage of the home leg by earning a win, unless they want to go to Pachuca with the score against them.
Pachuca. led by experience coach ‘Ojitos’ Meza, also flopped into the playoffs in the last week of the regular season. However, once the playoffs started, the team played its best football of the season. Pachuca first eliminated Pumas by a score of 5-3 in the quarterfinals, and then went on to beat Santos 4-4 (away goals) in the semifinals. Although their defense is shaky, the offense, lead by Enner Valencia, is fantastic.
Key Players to Watch
No team makes it to the final without a complete team effort, however, there are standouts on each squad. For Leon, it is certainly Carlos Peña, the box-to-box midfielder who has broken out as one of the top (maybe the best) Mexican midfielder in the past year. Peña can defend, pass and score (as evidenced by his beautiful goal against Toluca last Sunday), and Leon relies on him for all phases of the match. Peña leads Leon’s scoring with 6 goals this season, and it will be up to him to create the offense.
Pachuca’s key player, without a doubt, is Enner Valencia, who leads the league in scoring with 16 goals so far this season. Valencia has scored 4 goals in the playoffs, and it is apparent that Pachuca relies on him for offense, if Valencia is able to continue his great play, we might see Pachuca deny Leon the bicampeonato.
Leon vs Pachuca Prediction
The first leg of the Leon vs Pachuca match will be a tight, close affair, contrary to what the rest of the playoffs have shown. With the pressure of the Final weighing down on both coaches and all 22 players on the pitch, we will likely see two reserved teams, focusing on defense, and probing the opponent with limited attacks. Of course, it could en up being an open-ended match with plenty of scoring, it has been a crazy playoffs after all. However, history shows us that the first legs of the championship series are usually tight, and teams open up in the return leg, when everything is on the line.
With that being said, I predict the Leon vs Pachuca match will end in a 1-1 draw. Leon will control the ball most of the match, but Pachuca will be dangerous on the counterattacks. I am very confident that the Final will not be decided at the Nou Camp, and the match at the Estadio Hidalgo will be for all the marbles.
Leon vs Pachuca Television
The Leon vs Pachuca match will be televised on Telemundo at 6:05 PM Pacific this Thursday.
Leon vs Pachuca Highlights
The Leon vs Pachuca Liga MX Final highlights will be uploaded as soon as the match ends.