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Queretaro vs Tigres UANL – Liga MX Preview: Ronaldinho sets sights on unlikely play-off berth

Tigres UANL will travel to Queretaro on Friday night for an eagerly anticipated Week 15 clash in Mexico’s Liga MX.

Time: 5:30pm PDT / 8:30pm EDT / 1:30am BST
Date: Friday 24th April 2015
Where: Estadio La Corregidora, Queretaro, Mexico
Watch: Azteca America and ESPN Deportes (USA), Planeta Futbol (Mexico)

While a tie between these two sides is not a game that would normally garner too much attention, this season’s game carries extra significance for several reasons.

The Liga MX table is incredibly tight. With three games of the regular season remaining just six points separate Tigres in fourth place from Puebla down in fifteenth place. With the top eight set to qualify for the post-season play-offs (the ‘Liguilla’), it means all the sides will be keen to put together a strong end-of-season run and force their way into the reckoning. Only last placed Morelia (ten points) are mathematically out of contention.

Queretaro are going into the game with the best form in the league, having found their stride at exactly the right time. They only won one of their first seven games and looked devoid of ideas under previous manager Ignacio Ambriz, but they turned to former Monterrey and Mexico manager Victor Manuel Vucetich and he immediately injected new life into the side. Since he took charge they have won five of their seven league games, and evidence of the turnaround can be seen in the league table – six weeks ago they were languishing in seventeenth place, but four consecutive wins has seen them power up the standings; they now sit in eighth place and on the verge of an unlikely play-off spot.

The sight of Vucetich in the opposition dugout will strike fear into the hearts of Tigres. When he was in charge of their cross-city rivals Monterrey between 2009 and 2013 he won two league titles and three consecutive CONCACAF Champions League titles. This is his first job in club management since.

Queretaro are coming into the game after a stunning 4-0 win over Club America in the Azteca last weekend – their first ever win in the historic stadium. Ronaldinho scored twice in the last five minutes after coming on as a late sub. It takes his recent tally to two goals and two assists in his last four games, and there is hope amongst the ‘Gallos Blancos’ fans that they are finally on verge of seeing the best that the two-time FIFA World Player of the Year has to offer.

Tigres will also go into the game in good spirits. They smashed Monterrey 3-0 in El Volcan last weekend in the Clasico Regiomontano (Monterrey derby) and on Wednesday received confirmation that they will face Bolivian minnows Club Universitario de Sucre in the last 16 of the Copa Libertadores. They are unable to face the Argentine giants Boca Juniors and River Plate or the Brazilian heavyweight trio of Sao Paulo, Cruzeiro, or Corinthians until the final.

The hosts will be without star striker Camilo Sanvezzo who has missed the entire season with a cruciate ligament injury, while the visitors will be without captain Juninho (torn Achilles) and centre midfielder Jose ‘Gringo’ Torres (slipped disk).

A win for Queretaro would see them leapfrog Tigres, but a win for the Monterrey-based side would put them temporarily top-of-the-table.

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