Liga MX will be decided this weekend over two matches between Leon and Tigres. Club Leon looks for its eighth title, while Tigres seek their seventh. The first match will be played at Estádio Universitario on Thursday with the return leg to be played at Leon Stadium on Sunday. Which side will be awarded the title, and how can bettors attack the markets?
Leon Title Probability: 48%
Tigres Title Probability: 52%
So far so good for title probability projections, as the higher projected seed has advanced each matchup this Liguilla during Pinnacle previews.
In the quarterfinals and semifinals, the higher rank advances on an equal score after the two matches are played.
The unique rule encourages the better team to play more conservative in the second match if they have the advantage on goals. During the regular season, Liga MX matches averaged 2.72 goals per 90 minutes.
In Liguilla, the average has dropped to 1.78 goals per match and only three of 12 matches have had 3 or more goals scored. The final between Leon and Tigres will be played without the away goals or higher rank advances rule.
The aggregate score after two matches will decide the champion and if the score is equal, teams will play extra time. The change in rules should allow the two best offences in Liga MX to play without restriction for 180 minutes.
Best of the Best
It is not a surprise to see Leon and Tigres meet in the final. They were the best two teams in Liga MX during the regular season in points for, goals for and goals conceded.
Looking further than that, their play on the field translated to great success as well. Leon led the league in expected goals for at 1.72 per match, while Tigres were second at 1.51.
Both sides were at least 0.25 goals per match better than average on defence. What really stands out is looking at the offensive progression.
Both Tigres and Leon averaged more passes per 90 minutes, and more passes in the attacking zone than any other team in Liga MX.
Loss of Macias
Due to the Under 20 World Cup, Leon will be without attacker Jose Macias for both matches of the final. The loss of Macias is enormous.
Playing along side league leading scorer, Angel Mena, Macias was able to score 10 goals in 18 matches. Not only did Macias open up plenty of space for Mena to work, he was also critical in generating scoring chances.
Macias led Liga MX players who averaged less than 66 minutes played per match in non-penalty goals scored per 90 minutes.
He also led the league with 3.50 shot attempts per 90 minutes and 0.40 chances created per 90 minutes. Angel Mena is a phenomenal talent in terrific form, but the loss of Macias is a huge below to Leon, and the reason they are no longer the favourite to win the championship.
It is difficult to analyze this matchup and not feel Leon is continuing to be disrespected. Despite a near perfect season, both Tigres and Club America entered the playoffs with a higher title probability than Leon.
Their offence looked great against Tijuana, but struggled to finish chances against America. Tigres on the other hand have advance to the final winning just one of four playoff matches, being outworked on an expected goals basis 4.1-2.5.
Leon should be a clear favourite to stop the terrific play of Tigres keeper Nahuel Guzman but the loss of Macias will hold back their attack.
The trio of attacking midfielders for Tigres are playing at an elite level but are dependant on Gignac too score. The French attacker has moments of brilliance, but at other times has looked burned out.
Defence has been the overwhelming narrative thus far in Liguilla. Quietly, both of these sides have conceded in three of their four matches.
Much of the focus will be on the attacking power that remains (less Macias). If both teams are to regress in high pressure situations, both of these matches will feature a steady dose of attack.
Tigres are certainly the favourite to win the title, but some value may be found in the draw as well as the total goals over market in play.