Liga MX CL 18 Week 16 Preview: Xolos Travel to Leon For Must-Win Game Against Archrivals

Credit: Mexsport

Credit: Mexsport

Game: Leon vs Tijuana Xolos

When: Saturday, April 21, 2018

Where: Nou Camp, Leon, Guanajuato, Mexico

 Time: 5:06 P.M. PST

TV: ESPN Deportes, Galavision

The Tijuana Xolos will play their penultimate game of the Clausura 2018 regular season this Saturday when the border city side faces Leon away from home.

The match should prove to be a highly-entertaining clash as both teams are still trying to make the playoffs and do have a rivalry between each other. The rivalry dates back to the Mexican second division, and since then, both teams have faced off in intense, high-stakes games that have produced bad blood between the two sides. Fans of both teams definitely recognize the rivalry, and the players have carried this on the field throughout the years as well. The Border City Dogs are currently in seventh place with 21 points and cannot afford to lose this game, with just 180 minutes left in the regular season. Club Tijuana is coming off a solid 3-0 win against Chivas de Guadalajara, but that game was at the Estadio Caliente.

Away from home, the Xolos have yet to win, and have yet to even score a goal. Diego Cocca has used conservative tactics away from the Mictlan and will need to be aggressive in this game, especially considering the opponent and what is on the line. The attack looked very promising in the last game with Miller Bolanos, Gustavo Bou, Luis Angel Mendoza, and Juan Martin Lucero working well together. This core of players could be seen again in this game, but Ignacio Malcorra may also receive an opportunity to start against La Fiera.

Leon still has possibilities of making the playoffs, currently in 13th place with 18 points, but must win this game to stay in the hunt.

Los Esmeraldas are coming off an impressive 2-1 away win against Veracruz, but it was their only win in the last five games. Gustavo Diaz counters with a very promising attack with players like Mauro Boselli, Elias Hernandez, and Andres Andrade, but has struggled massively defensively. Los Panzas Verdes have allowed a league-worst 32 goals this season and have been plagued by inconsistent performances by goalkeepers and the backline this semester.

La Fiera has also been plagued by injuries as centre-backs Guillermo Burdisso and Ignacio Gonzalez will not be available for this match. A big blow to the team has been the absence of midfielder Alexander Mejia, who controls the midfield and defense in his deep role. This is a dismantled Leon team and a win will be very hard to come by against a complete Tijuana Xolos team.

Players to Watch

Credit: Liga MX

Miller Bolanos

The Ecuadorian forward picked up a goal and an assist against Chivas de Guadalajara last week to add to his successful semester. Bolanos currently leads Club Tijuana with four goals and led the attack in the last game as he was easily the most exciting and creative player on the pitch. On his day, the 27-year-old can be one of the better players in the league and he should be able to take advantage of Leon’s weakened backline in this clash.

Mauro Boselli

The Argentine striker leads Leon with eight goals this season and is exactly the type of forward that the Xolos have struggled to contain this season. The Aztec Canine shave struggled against physical strikers like Milton Caraglio of Atlas, and Mauro Boselli should be another very tough player to keep track of. Los Esmeraldas’ captain has that massive physical presence and also has exceptional finishing that has made him one of the more consistent strikers in the Liga MX over the past few years.

Prediction

This has the makings to be a very high-scoring affair at the Nou Camp and a very intense and entertaining game as well. Both teams do not like each other and have the added incentive of reaching the playoffs on the line as well. EVT predicts a 3-2 win for Club Tijuana as it would not be surprising to see both teams be really aggressive and produce a spectacle of a match.

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Francisco Velasco
Francisco, 21, Chula Vista area, Journalism student at Southwestern College. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres' 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the Tijuana Xolos soccer team, get press passes for every home game and write consistently about the team for EVT.

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Francisco Velasco
Francisco, 21, Chula Vista area, Journalism student at Southwestern College. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres' 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the Tijuana Xolos soccer team, get press passes for every home game and write consistently about the team for EVT.