Tigres dominates Liga MX Apertura 2015 Best XI after title win
With the Apertura 2015 Liga MX season done and dusted and Tigres crowned champion for the fourth time in their history, Tom Marshall goes over the best XI of the tournament in Mexico.
GK: Alfredo Talavera, Toluca
A model of consistency and the best goalkeeper in the Liga MX over the past couple of years, Talavera was a key element in Toluca reaching the semifinals and coming close to knocking out eventual champion Tigres. The 33-year-old is a genuine difference-maker for his club and has all the credentials to be Mexico's No. 1 in 2016.
DF: Gerardo Alcoba, Pumas
Alcoba's 119th minute equalizer for Pumas against Tigres will be the highlight of his year, but the Uruguayan has put in quality performances week in, week out and has been a clear upgrade on Dario Veron's former central defensive partner, Marco Antonio Palacios. The 31-year-old is a no-nonsense type of defender and should take over as the leader of Pumas' back line when veteran Veron bows out.
DF: Juninho, Tigres
The Tigres captain lifted the trophy to cap a remarkable comeback following his Achilles tendon rupture last December. Having missed the first six months of 2015, the Brazilian returned to stamp his authority and leadership on the Tigres defense this Apertura, resulting in the best defensive record in the league and the title.
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DF: Luis Fuentes, Pumas
The left-back's play this season earned him a place in the Mexico squad and there will be more call-ups coming his way if he continues his form. Fuentes was especially good in the second leg of the Liga MX final, in which he seemed to drive his team forward. Tigres' Jorge Torres Nilo was another contender and Fuentes' competition with El Tri, although he didn't feature in the liguilla.
DF: Paul Aguilar, Club America
Like Torres Nilo, Aguilar is well established as the best player in his position across Liga MX and this Apertura was another season in which the Mexico international excelled for America. Known more for his forays into opposition territory, Aguilar has improved the defensive aspect of his game immeasurably and enjoyed the best moment of his career when he netted for Mexico to win the CONCACAF Cup against the United States.
MF: Guido Pizarro, Tigres
A strong candidate for Liga MX player of the season, the Argentine provides the industry in Tigres' midfield and is more than capable when he has the ball at his feet. He is sure to have interest from Europe after this past Apertura, in which he has been every bit as good as some of his more-lauded teammates.
MF: Osvaldo Martinez, America
It was a season in which some of Las Aguilas' star signings didn't shine as they would've liked, but Paraguayan Martinez stepped up to become the heartbeat of the side. Playing a deeper role, Martinez silenced some of the critics who didn't believe he was good enough to play for the club.
MF: Javier Aquino, Tigres
What a return to Mexican soccer for winger Aquino. An important figure in Tigres' championship win, Aquino felt some heat after retreating from La Liga's Villarreal back to Liga MX last summer, but has shown his quality with consistently good displays. Aquino has been a defender's nightmare this season.
MF: Ismael Sosa, Pumas
Pumas' best player with 11 goals in 23 games from the right wing and a contender for Liga MX player of the season. Argentine Sosa has been a key figure and Pumas would likely not have been regular-season first-place finishers and liguilla finalists without his input.
FW: Edwin Cardona, Monterrey
Perhaps a controversial choice because there are a number of forwards (Eduardo Herrera, Rafael Sobis, Silvio Romero, Omar Bravo, Dario Benedetto, Mauro Boselli) that were vying for this spot. But Colombia international Cardona is on another level. Mainly featuring this season in the space behind central striker Rogelio Funes Mori or in a wide position, Cardona netted 10 goals in 15 games even with opposition paying him special attention.
FW: Andre-Pierre Gignac, Tigres
The star of the Liga MX show, French striker Gignac has picked up in Mexico where he left off with his beloved Marseille: lapping up the adoration of fans and scoring goals. Winning the title in his first season in Mexico was the icing on the cake in a 15-goal season over just 21 games.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.