Tigres won't have it easy vs. Vancouver in Champions League - Tuca Ferretti
MONTERREY, Mexico -- Tigres coach Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti is banishing any notion of favoritism ahead of Tuesday's CONCACAF Champions League semifinal first leg against Vancouver Whitecaps after having watched Barcelona's epic comeback against Paris Saint-Germain last week.
Liga MX teams have lost only twice in their last 50 games on home soil against MLS opposition, but that doesn't mean champion Tigres will have it easy against Vancouver in Estadio Universitario, according to Ferretti.
"In the end it is 11 against 11 on the field and you see that there are always surprises in football," said Ferretti, reminding journalists of Barcelona's famous UEFA Champions League win over PSG. "[Vancouver Whitecaps] have good players, [MLS] has progressed a lot."
Ferretti said the Liga MX referees' strike -- which caused Tigres' game against Chivas last Saturday to be suspended -- hadn't affected preparations for the Vancouver match, adding that it had actually given his team more time to rest and be ready for Tuesday night.
The former Mexico national team interim manager, however, dismissed the idea that MLS clubs are at a disadvantage because the North America league only starts in early March and teams are thrown straight into the CCL knockout stages, while Liga MX outfits are midway through their Clausura season.
"I don't think [we have an advantage]," said the 63-year-old. "They had games against New York [Red Bulls], they played in the league, have probably done a preseason and they are very well educated in that regard. I don't see any advantage."
Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson wasn't in agreement, but isn't complaining about the deal his side has been handed.
"Yes, I do [think we are at an disadvantage], but there is not a lot I can do about it," stated Robinson. "I get asked a lot from the North American media about why we aren't able to compete with the top Mexican teams and that's part of the reason. The Mexican boys are fit, but we won't use that as an excuse."
The Canadian team arrived in Monterrey on Monday afternoon and went straight to train at Estadio Universitario, where Robinson told a group of around 20 journalists that getting a result in the CONCACAF Champions League game on Tuesday will require patience from his players.
"They are a difficult team, they have got some talented players, we know it is going to be a difficult game, but not impossible," the former Wales international said. "We are tactically disciplined on the defensive side and there areas that we think we can exploit."
Robinson added it is a "game of a lifetime" for some of Vancouver's players and said he has no reservations about playing 16-year-old starlet Alphonso Davies in one of Mexico's most imposing atmospheres.
The second leg of the series will be played in Vancouver on April 5, with FC Dallas and Pachuca facing off in the other CCL semifinal.
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.