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 By Tom Marshall

Rayados, Tigres deny buying success: 'Other teams make more investment'

Liga MX finalists Monterrey and Tigres have denied that their path to the 2017 Apertura final is all about splashing the cash, even if a lot of the build up has centered around the issue.

The Clasico Regio rivals, who play the first leg of the final in Estadio Universitario on Thursday, have built up two of the most expensive squads in the league.

Monterrey led the regular season standings and bulldozed past Morelia 5-0 on aggregate in the semifinals, while Tigres finished right behind in second and overcame Club America 4-0.

But Monterrey coach Antonio Mohamed and Tigres' Ricardo Ferretti coincided in stating that there is more to their teams' success than investment in the playing squad.

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"Mexico has the most even football [league] in the world," said veteran Ferretti in a news conference on Wednesday. "You have to know how to invest. These two teams have the fortune of having support to choose players.

"Other teams are powerful and make more investment than us. The quality of the players that we've signed and the results give credence to the comments, but we're not the only two teams that have invested."

Mohamed pointed out that when he was at Club America the institution spent more money on Darwin Quintero and Oribe Peralta than Monterrey has in its recent purchases.

"It's an exaggeration to think it is only investment and that we don't do anything," said Mohamed, who was alongside Ferretti in the news conference.

"Our directors have done great work to invest and their good work is discredited."

The Liga MX final is finely poised, with Tigres coming into the game on five titles and Monterrey on four, although Tigres won both the Apertura 2015 and the Apertura 2016, while Rayados are without a league trophy since 2010.

Antonio Mohamed & Ricardo Ferretti
Antonio Mohamed and Ricardo Ferretti will go head to head in the first leg of the 2017 Apertura final on Thursday.

"We're the side that has played more finals over recent years," said Tigres captain Juninho on Wednesday.

"Tigres have been in five of the last seven finals and that should be taken into account. For my mind, Tigres is [a] really big [club]."

Tickets for Thursday's game are selling for over $200 online and passion is likely to be high as the teams square off in the first ever Clasico Regio final. Both clubs and the authorities have repeatedly pleaded for calm from their fans in arguably the biggest game in the history of Monterrey.

"Tigres and Rayados have grown a lot," said Juninho. "We ask both sets of fans to live in peace and not to overstep the line.

"On the field we will try to set the example.

"We ask our fans and Monterrey fans to show why they are the two best in Mexico."

Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.

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