CONCACAF Champions League Preview: Tigres UANL vs Vancouver Whitecaps

The Tigres UANL vs. Vancouver Whitecaps match is going to be an interesting one and it seems most are expecting a comfortable win for the Liga MX side. Nine matches into the Clausura they are sitting 12th in the table at 3-2-4 (W-D-L). Despite them sitting so far down the table, they are surely a club that should not be overlooked by the ‘Caps. They also were the 2016 Apertura Champions, showing their obvious quality.

CONCACAF Champions League Preview: Tigres UANL vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Tigres UANL in the 2017 CCL

Tigres were drawn into a group with Herediano of Costa Rica and C.D. Plaza Amador of Panama. While not the strongest group on paper, Tigres did end up coming out of the group with just a single loss. They started with a 3-1 win over Heredian, proceeded to beat Plaza Amador 3-1, lost to Plaza Amador in their second meeting 1-0, and finished with another three-goal game in a 3-0 win over Herediano to advance from the group.

Tigres were drawn against fellow Liga MX side Pumas UNAM after advancing from that relatively weak group. They came out of the first leg with a 1-1 draw against a strong side, heading into the second leg with everything to play for. They then closed off that second leg with an extremely impressive performance in a 3-0 win, booking their place in the semifinals.

Vancouver Whitecaps in the 2017 CCL

Vancouver was in a slightly tougher group than that of the aforementioned Tigres, but not drastically so, with the addition of Central FC. They were drawn into a group with fellow MLS side Sporting KC and Central FC of Trinidad and Tobago.

The Whitecaps finished the group with a resounding four wins in four games. In their two matches against Central FC they came out with a 1-0 and a resounding 4-1 win. Against Sporting KC they won the first match relatively easily with a 3-0 final scoreline and the second match finished much tighter, with Vancouver coming out the victors in a hard fought 2-1 match.

After winning all four group stage matches and advancing out of the group, Vancouver was drawn against another MLS side for the quarterfinals in the New York Red Bulls. This was a bit of a toss up as the Red Bulls are a very strong side. Vancouver went and got a 1-1 draw in New York, a fantastic result, leading into the second leg. In the second leg they closed out the tie with confidence on the back of goals from young star Alphonso Davies and superstar new boy Fredy Montero.

Players to Watch

When looking at Tigres there are a few names to make note of and two of them are in attack. Andre-Pierre Gignac and Eduardo Vargas are two big names, and it’s going to be one heck of a match for the ‘Caps back line to keep them in check.

Gignac originally made his name in Ligue 1 with Toulouse and Olympique Marseille. During his time in Ligue 1 with Marseille he played in 155 Ligue 1 matches, scoring 59 goals in the competition. After leaving for Toulouse he played in another 32 league matches and scored eight goals there before heading to Liga MX to join Tigres. Since arriving in Mexico he has scored an impressive 40 goals in 66 matches for Tigres.

As for Vargas, he first made his name with the Chile National Team at the 2014 World Cup. He came onto the scene and had a great tournament, pushing forward a big money move to then-English Premier League side Queens Park Rangers. He left England for Germany to play in 29 Bundesliga matches for Hoffenheim before making his move to Mexico to join Gignac at Tigres.

On the other side of things, there are another two attacking players to key in on for the Vancouver Whitecaps. The first one would have to be new attacking option Fredy Montero. Montero is a seasoned striker and has proven himself time and time again in MLS play, and even had a successful stint in Portugal and China. If Montero gets the start tomorrow, look for him to play a pivotal role in any attacking success the ‘Caps have.

Another name to keep an eye on is the young Canadian phenom Alphonso Davies. Davies burst onto the scene at the end of last season and has proven to not be a flash in the pan. Davies was a pivotal cog in the 3-1 aggregate win over New York in the CCL Quarterfinals, and he even played fairly well in the MLS season opener against the Philadelphia Union. With both Montero and Davies being rested, aside from a 29-minute cameo from Montero, the other night, they should be well-rested and ready to play in what is undeniably the biggest match of the Whitecaps’ history.

Other Match Notes

After the 3-1 aggregate win over the New York Red Bulls the Vancouver Whitecaps clinched their first ever appearance in the CONCACAF Champions League Semifinals. They are joined by FC Dallas on the other side of the bracket.

The match in Mexico will be played at the Estadio Universitario. The Estadio Universitario can seat a whopping 41,650 fans at every match, a number that will be less than surprising to see as the official attendance on Tuesday night.