Liga MX: Why Leon Deserved to Win the Title

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistDecember 16, 2013

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO - NOVEMBER 13: Rafael Marquez of Mexico celebrates during a match between Mexico and New Zealand as part of the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers at Azteca Stadium on November 13, 2013 in Mexico City, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)
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Leon defeated America 3-1 (5-1 aggregate score) to claim their sixth league title.

The way to success was not easy for Gustavo Matosas’ side. The Argentinean arrived in Leon in 2012 when the team was in the second division.

He immediately changed the club’s mindset. Leon were the only undefeated team of the 2012 Clausura tournament and eventually secured the title; that meant they had the chance to play in the two-legged promotion match, which they ultimately won.

Leon went back to the Liga MX after 10 years of absence. Matosas stayed with Los Panzas Verdes and kept most of his players.

In his first Liga MX tournament with Leon, he set a record for a newcomer as his side grabbed 33 points, qualified for the playoffs and secured a ticket for the first stage of the Copa Libertadores.

During the 2012 Apertura, Leon never sat below fifth place in the general table, and although they lost to Tijuana in the semifinals, the team made quite an impression.

The 2013 Clausura was not as successful. La Fiera were unable to qualify to the playoffs after posting a 3-7-7 record.

But the staff was not about to quit, and so they brought in new players for the upcoming season like Mauro Boselli, who was the 2013 Apertura top scorer.

Leon went undefeated for eight weeks, until they lost to Chiapas. That would be their first defeat of only three in the tournament.

After 17 matchdays, La Fiera sat third in the general table, securing themselves a spot in the playoffs.

They were unstoppable from the quarterfinals. They faced Morelia, and with a draw to three goals and a 4-0 win on home soil, they advanced to the semifinals.

Santos were the next rival. Los Guerreros finished the season in second place and had the best offense of the tournament.

But Leon were ready, and they stunned Santos. First, they won at the Nou Camp 3-2. At Torreon, they tied the game, enough to get their ticket for the final match.

Throughout the playoffs Matosas went for a traditional 4-4-2 formation, allowing Luis Montes and Carlos Pena to come forward and help in the attacking zone; this provided flexibility and speed, while the wingers gave depth to the team.

Meanwhile, America struggled in the playoffs. A couple of draws against Tigres in the quarterfinals raised some red flags.

Toluca showed Las Aguilas' weaknesses, especially in the backbone.

A 2-1 defeat at the Estadio Nemesio Diez put them on the spot. But they finally managed to win at the Azteca for the first time in six weeks, and they reached their second successive final.

America were seeking to become the second team to secure two consecutive titles in short tournaments, while Leon wanted to win a Liga MX title for the first time in 21 years.

Los Panzas Verdes were spectacular in both legs of the final. On home soil they scored twice, and in their visit to the Estadio Azteca, they did it again, 3-1.

Las Aguilas pushed in both games. They tried and controlled the ball, but they lacked width.

Leon took advantage of America's mistakes and also exploited their weaknesses with precise and quick passes, lethal crosses and accurate shots.

Los Panzas Verdes have been loyal to themselves, from the fans to the staff.

They have players like Pena, who started his career in the promotion league and has proved how valuable he is little by little, and Rafael Marquez, who, at age 34, is one of the best footballers that Mexico has had.

America was a good contender, but never a real threat. Leon were better in every line; the club has trusted Matosas and his players despite the tough times. 

The balance, humility and hard work of this club are the true reasons why they have been so successful and why they deserve the title.