2023 Clausura finalists Tigres UANL and Chivas played to a 0-0 draw in Thursday's first leg of the Liga MX championship series.
Held in a sold-out and boisterous Estadio Universitario, the playoff game initially failed to meet the energy from the stands.
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On the field in the first half, both sides looked nervous with a handful of shots off target and a couple of noteworthy mistakes. While Chivas defender Antonio Briseño narrowly avoided scoring an own-goal off a poor clearance, Tigres midfielder Fernando Gorriaran mistimed a pass near his box that almost led to a goal for the visitors.
Playing away from home, Chivas were defensively compact against Tigres, occasionally sitting cautiously back in a 4-5-1 formation that helped maintain a 0-0 scoreline by the halftime whistle.
By the second half, the hosts began to press higher up the field through attack-minded substitutions from new manager Robert Dante Siboldi. With bench options like Jesus Garza, Juan Pablo Vigon, Nicolas Lopez and Nicolas Ibañez all on the pitch by the 68th minute, Tigres utilized a more vertical approach by the latter stages of the match.
"The series is still, for me, open," Tigres coach Robert Siboldi said. "I think we showed that we were superior. The opposition came to find a result that would allow them to continue in the race."
Aiming to hold onto a valuable away draw, Chivas manager Veljko Paunović kept his side defensively organized, later committing to a five-man backline with second half substitutions of his own. Despite added attacking momentum, Tigres failed to get anything past Chivas goalkeeper Miguel "Wacho" Jimenez, eventually finishing their home leg with a 0-0 draw.
"First objective accomplished, not conceding a goal. Second objective, scoring a goal, not accomplished," said Paunovic in the post-game news conference. "We're not completely satisfied with the result, but it's important to have not conceded a goal."
On Sunday, Chivas will host the second leg of the Liga MX final at the Estadio Akron in. If the Guadalajara club were to go on to win the championship, they would equal the all-time record of 13 league titles held by their rivals, Club America.
As for Tigres, a Liga MX trophy would close out their complicated season on a surprisingly high note. With inconsistent results and Siboldi as their third manager since February, the Nuevo Leon team will be aiming for their fifth league championship in the last decade.