We won't really know how big a deal the Campeones Cup is for both Toronto FC and Tigres UANL on Wednesday night (8:15 pm ET; ESPN2, Univision, TSN, TVAS) until we see what kinds of lineups they put out. It's always hard to judge just how vital a brand new competition is ahead of time – nobody took the UEFA SuperCup seriously when it debuted, right? But it's become a much bigger deal over the past decade.
What we can judge ahead of time is the form of these two teams, who played arguably the greatest home-and-home series in Concacaf history just six months ago, and who have each struggled during their current regular season.
The first leg of that series, which TFC won 2-1 at BMO Field, was particularly spectacular:
And then it turns out the second leg was even better:
If Wednesday's contest is anywhere close to what these two teams graced us with in March, the Campeones Cup will be off to a good start.
A few things to watch TFC for:
- TFC's defense has largely been a disaster for basically the entire season, including their most recent outing (a 5-3 home win over the LA Galaxy)
- In particular they struggle to track diagonal runs through the area
- Their penchant for bad turnovers from deep positions means they're constantly scrambling back toward their goal
- Alex Bono has been nowhere near as reliable in net as he was last year
- With Jozy Altidore, Sebastian Giovinco, Victor Vazquez and Jonathan Osorio healthy, TFC can score on just about anyone
- They are most likely to come out in a 3-5-2, though constant injuries on the backline might push them into some version of a 4-4-2
- The Reds are 9th in the East and every MLS game is a must-win for them from here on out, so don't be too surprised if there's squad rotation in this one
A few things to watch Tigres for:
- They've struggled in the Apertura by their own lofty standards (they usually win it), and currently sit in 7th
- Andre Pierre-Gignac and Eduardo Vargas remain the two main goal threats, as Gignac has six goals this season and Vargas has three.
- Head coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti has blasted his team's current form, chalking it up to concentration more than anything else
- When Pierre-Gignac and Vargas start together in a 4-3-3, Tigres are very narrow unless they push their fullbacks all the way into the final third
- Defensive midfielder Guido Pizarro has long been the unsung hero of Tigres' dominant decade