The first leg of the much-anticipated Apertura 2017 final will be this Thursday as Tigres UANL will host Monterrey at the Estadio Universitario. It will be the first Clasico Regio final in Liga MX history and it will be between two of the most talented squads in Liga MX history, here are five players to watch.
The French striker has been pretty average this season up until this point with four goals in the regular season and two in the playoffs. Still, these are the type of games where Gignac shines above the rest and shows why many consider him the most talented player in the League. There is a reason why the Frenchman has earned the nickname “Monsieur Liguilla” and he will be looking to add to the 18 career goals he has in the Liga MX playoffs.
The obvious player to watch on Monterrey would be Aviles Hurtado but it is unclear if he will be healthy to play in this game. Hurtado was not even on the bench in the second leg semifinal matchup against Monaracas Morelia and could be missing this due to that same injury that kept him out of that game.
The player that must now step up if Hurtado is to miss this game is his countryman Dorlan Pabon, who is yet to score in this Liguilla. Pabon had a very good Apertura 2017 regular season with five goals and seven assists and will now need to provide that skill and explosiveness for Monterrey in this first leg.
Juninho was absent in the second leg of the semifinal matchup against Club America for Tigres UANL and could be missing this first leg of the final. Colombian centre-back Francisco Meza replaced the Tigres’ captain in that game against Club America and did a really solid job. Of course, Tigres UANL kept the clean sheet against Las Aguilas and Meza played the entire 90 minutes.
The Colombian defender had two blocked shots, three tackles, won seven of nine duels, had an interception and a clearance. Meza will have a huge responsibility in this game if Juninho cannot play and should form a solid pairing with Hugo Ayala.
At 18 years old, Gonzalez will be the youngest player that should start in this Liga MX Apertura 2017 final. The California native has been immense in the Monterrey midfield mainly playing in a recovering midfield role. Gonzalez has received playing time over a very talented midfielder in Jesus Molina and has been a key player in this Rayados’ team. There will surely be immense pressure on the young American because of the incredibly high stakes but he has looked solid in these vital games before.
Rogelio Funes Mori
Rogelio Funes Mori has easily been Monterrey’s best player in the Apertura 2017 playoffs with six goals so far. The Argentine only had six goals throughout the Apertura regular season but it looks like he could surpass that mark in this final. Funes Mori is one of the league’s most complete strikers as he has a decent physical presence at 6-foot-1, he has decent pace, clinical finishing ability and can distribute the ball.
If Aviles Hurtado is unavailable, the 26-year-old will also need to be more of a factor in this first leg like he was against Monarcas Morelia in the semifinals, where he managed to score a hattrick.
How to Watch Tigres UANL vs Monterrey
The Tigres UANL vs Monterrey match will be broadcast this Thursday, December 7 at 6:00 PM Pacific:
TV Schedule: Univision Deportes
Watch Live Online: Sling TV (Watch 7 Days Free)