Tonight, all eyes will be on “El Volcán” No, I’m not referring to Popo, the erupting volcano whose pyroclastic flows are causing municipal administrations in Puebla to prepare refugee centers.
No, I’m referring to Estadio Universitario in Monterrey’s suburbs, where the 117th edition of “Clásico Regiomontano” will be played as part of the Liga MX semifinals.
The seventh-ranked Tigres host their crosstown rivals, the top-seeded Rayados of Monterrey, in the opening game of a two-game series to determine who advances to the Liga MX finals.
Tigres will attempt to win their eighth Liga MX championship, while Monterrey is seeking its sixth. On Saturday evening, the repeat contest will be played at Estadio BBVA Bancomer.
Monterrey dominated the regular season.
The Rayados ended their eight-game winless stretch (0-4-4) at “El Volcán” courtesy of a Luis Romo wonder strike from nearly 35 yards out. The lone goal of the Matchday 12 match was scored in minute 68 by Romo.
The previous road victory for Monterrey in the “Clásico Regio” occurred on May 11, 2016, in a quarterfinal playoff series that saw the top-seeded Rayados advance to the Liga MX Final, where they were defeated by Pachuca.
Another Monterrey derby will take place in the Liga MX semifinals.
This is the sixth time these two northern rivals have met in the Liga MX postseason since 2013, including a Finals matchup (the Tigres claimed the 2017 Apertura over the Rayados by a 3-2 aggregate tally).
The most recent Liguilla match between these two acrimonious rivals occurred in the 2019 Clausura semifinals, with the No. 2 seeded Tigres prevailing over the No. 3 seeded Monterrey by virtue of its higher seed (both teams won 1-0 at home). “Los Felineros” won their most recent Liga MX championship by defeating the No. 1 seed León (1-0 on aggregate).
Since 1979, these two clubs have met a total of 16 times in the Liga MX postseason. In that season’s postseason, group stages were utilized (their two meetings resulted in a Tigres victory and a draw), but neither club advanced out of the group stage.
The next four times the teams from Nuevo León met in the postseason, Monterrey advanced (Clausura 2003 semifinal, Apertura 2005 semifinal, Clausura 2013 quarterfinal, Clausura 2016 quarterfinal).
Since then, Tigres has dominated, eliminating the Rayados in the Clausura 2017 quarterfinals, Apertura 2017 final, and Clausura 2019 semifinal.
Neither team enters the semifinals in exceptional shape. In the quarterfinals, Tigres squandered a three-goal advantage against Toluca before Sebastián Córdova scored the game-winning goal, while Monterrey needed 158 minutes to defeat the 12th-seeded Santos Laguna.