Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Motagua
When: Tuesday, February 27, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will play the second leg of their CONCACAF Champions League matchup against Motagua this Tuesday at the Estadio Caliente.
The border city side achieved a 1-0 win against the Honduran team in the first leg of this series. That first leg was played in Edinburg, Texas and turned out to be a bizarre encounter with a delay due to a blackout and thunderstorm. There should be no problems with the weather in Tijuana this Tuesday, but it could prove to be a tough match for the Aztec Canines.
Diego Cocca used most of his key starters in the first leg and the team struggled against the Central American side. Ignacio Rivero scored the lone goal against Motagua and Gibran Lajud was crucial to the Xolos’ win last Wednesday. Cocca used an alternate squad in the Liga MX against Club America last Saturday, which could mean that the Argentine manager will use all of his starters in this game.
The Xoloitzcuintles did get an impressive 0-0 draw against Club America in Mexico City and should ride on that momentum into this encounter. Three players will not be available for this match as Juan Martin Lucero, Ignacio Malcorra, and Gustavo Bou all have injuries. The likely replacements for these players in the lineup are Rubio Rubin and Julio Angulo, but it is still unclear as to what starting XI Diego Cocca will go for. Club Tijuana did struggle in the away leg, but should get a comfortable win in this return leg as the game will be at the Estadio Caliente. The Xolos’ best performances this season have come at the Mictlan, and that should not change in this match in the CCL.
Motagua played much better than expected in that first leg and the Xolos players are well aware that this will not be an easy game.
Mateus Goncalves had a press conference ahead of this game and expressed this to the media. Goncalves said, “It’s a very strong rival that will leave everything on the pitch. It will be a complicated game and we can’t loosen up.” It is good news for the Xolos that the players are not taking this game lightly as overconfidence can lead to failure. Motagua is currently first in the Honduran league with 21 points and is undefeated this season. El Ciclon Azul has inclusively not conceded a goal in their last three league games and have potential to show a valiant effort in this game. Las Aguilas played a very physical game in the first leg that should be demonstrated again at the Estadio Caliente. The game should be entertaining and should not suffer any delays this time around, like in the first leg.
Players To Watch
Rubio Rubin should get an opportunity to start this game without Juan Martin Lucero and Gustavo Bou available for Diego Cocca. The American forward has played more as a winger in his first two appearances with the team, but can also play as a striker. Rubin looked solid in the first leg of this series off the bench and could prove to be an important player for the Aztec Canines.
Lajud’s form is currently impeccable as he was the standout player for Club Tijuana against Club America and also had a stellar performance in the first leg of this matchup. The Mexican goalkeeper has arguably been the Aztec Canines’ best player this season and should be due to make an impact if he is needed in the game.
The Border City Dogs did struggle in the first leg against the Honduran team, but it should be a different story at the Estadio Caliente. The Xolos should not have a problem taking down Motagua and advancing to the quarterfinals of the competition. The prediction for the match is a comfortable 2-0 win for the border city side with Rubio Rubin and Miller Bolanos providing the goals for the home team.