LAFC has battled to the final of the CONCACAF Champions League and has a great chance to become the second consecutive US winner of this competition.
Who do Bettors Favor
A check of the odds at the best online sportsbooks shows that bookmakers are yet to release odds for this final, so it is difficult to know who bettors will favor. It seems likely, however, that the MLS champions LAFC will be rated as favorites to win the trophy, certainly for the Los Angeles leg of the final, though Leon will be the favorites to win the return leg in Mexico.
|LAFC v Leon|
CONCACAF Champions League Briefing
The CONCACAF Champions League dates back to 1962, but it was effectively relaunched in 2008 when it adopted its current name and structure.
The competition is open to clubs from all CONCACAF nations, but Mexico and the United States have historically dominated. It has been won by eight different teams, seven of which are from Mexico, with the United States represented by the Seattle Sounders, which won it last year.
Canada has also produced two finalists: Montreal and Toronto, although both clubs compete in Major League Soccer and neither was able to win their respective final. LAFC, meanwhile, is making its second visit to the final, having previously reached this stage in 2020, where it lost to Mexico's Tigres.
LAFC Aim to Make History
The reigning MLS Cup champion has battled to the final of this competition for only the second time in the franchise's history in strong form, despite starting its season with both MLS and Champions League obligations, which can often prove a formidable burden for MLS teams.
Its semi-final match was against an old MLS rival, Philadelphia, but it was ultimately a one-sided affair, which LAFC won with a 3-0 victory in the second leg. LAFC succeeded thanks to goals from Timothy Tillman, Kwado Opoku, and Denis Bouanga, although things were made much easier by Olivier Mbazo's red card in the second half.
LAFC's season has been equally successful so far in domestic football. It is currently in first place in the Western Conference, having lost just one of its first 12 matches, and leads Seattle Sounders by two points, though with two games in hand due to its Champions League efforts. Additionally, it has the second-best offensive and defensive records in the Western Conference. As the Black and Gold seek to make football history on the continent, LAFC players have every right to feel confident.
Club Leon Out of Form
Club Leon's path to the Champions League final was less certain than LAFC's. It ultimately prevailed 4-3 on aggregate against its national rivals Tigres in a thrilling semi-final in which Tigres owned a 2-1 lead after the first leg.
In the second leg, goals by Angel Mena, Adonis Frias, and Fidel Ambriz were enough to secure the victory for Leon, despite Tigres scoring a goal to level the score in the second half of the second leg. Frias got the decisive score for Leon with just over ten minutes to go.
Surprisingly, this will be Leon's first appearance in the Champions League final, but unlike LAFC, it does not enter this match in great form. It finished sixth in the Liga MX Clausura and was eliminated from the Reclassification playoffs in the first round by Atletico San Luis, so will need to step up a level to win here.
Champions League Betting Pick
It has taken MLS clubs a long time to make an impact in this competition, but the signs are that teams from the United States and Canada are finally learning to cope with the complexities of Champions League football, including the difficulties of beginning both the MLS and Champions League campaigns simultaneously, as the MLS season begins in March.
Last season, Seattle became the first MLS team to win this competition, but LAFC's claim is even stronger. This team has been the dominant force in MLS for the past 18 months and its impressive start to the current Major League Soccer season is an indicator of the depth of its roster and the confidence of its players. I anticipate LAFC to be too strong for Club Leon, which is not among the top teams in Liga MX, and an LAFC win over two legs is best pick.
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