The Liga MX season has reached the halfway mark, with Monterrey and Tigres sitting in second and first place in the table respectively. The top of the table clash features the two best clubs in Mexico on paper, but what do the statistics say? How will both teams deal with midweek Champions League matchups? Is one side over-performing? Where can bettors find an advantage?
What more can be said about Monterrey or Tigres? Both sides sit atop the Liga MX table with Tigres at 22 points and Monterrey at 21. The league leaders have won their last seven matches dating back to mid-January when they dropped a match against Cruz Azul.
Los Rayados are the only club in Mexico not to lose a match this season and have kept a clean sheet in their last four. Monterrey have scored 22 times – the most in the country – while Tigres have scored 17 goals, good for third position.
Betting markets on Pinnacle currently have Monterrey at home priced at 2.35*, which implies a 42% chance of winning. To draw and Tigres away are both industry best prices* at Pinnacle, listed at 3.39* (29%) for the draw and 3.16* (32%) for the away win.
Set-up for disappointment
In my preview last week, I questioned the validity of the Tigres output which, despite leading the league, pegs them just above average. Of the 17 goals the club has scored this season, four have been own goals, and two have been late match stoppage time penalties.
At a rate of 1.38 expected goals per match, Tigres are now more than five goals above their expectancy this season. Much of their success, in my observation, has been due to their hyper-aggressive possession-dependent style – and a lot of good fortune.
Monterrey took a gamble and elected to sit out a majority of their starting players last weekend in acknowledgement of a Champions League match against Atlanta on Wednesday, and a matchup against Tigres on Saturday. Manager Diego Alonso took the chance, and it paid off with a victory against Chivas.
Tigres elected to play their regular rotation in a difficult matchup against Pachuca. They now must deal with two travel spots in 96 hours, with an away match at Houston mid-week to begin their Champions League round, followed by travelling directly to Monterrey.
The betting market will react to Monterrey playing on Wednesday vs. Tigres playing on Tuesday, but with the full rest week prior, Monterrey appear to have better budgeted their resources.
Monterrey have been winning matches in a completely different fashion. Despite a deep talent pool of elite finishers and attacking midfielders, it has been their defence that has stepped up.
At just 0.87 expected goals against (xGA) per match, among the least in shot attempts against and successful passes against, Monterrey and their pressing defensive style suffocate opponents in build-up and in their own third of the field. Tigres only have success when they control possession – and Monterrey will be pleased to give them that.
Rayados manager Diego Alonso knows his best advantage in this match is patience, and he is going to have his backline wait for the aggressive Tigres side to over-extend. The second they do; the extremely creative and quick counter-attack can take advantage. It is not a surprise that the only loss on Tigres’ schedule thus far is against Cruz Azul, the second-best defence in xGA and equally skilled counter-punching team.
Tactically, this match plays into the home sides comfort zone and with regression inevitable for Tigres, there could undoubtedly be value in the home side at odds better than 2.00*.