Game: Monarcas Morelia vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017
Where: Estadio Morelos, Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico
Time: 5:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The group stage phase of the Copa MX has finished and now it is time for the playoffs.
16 teams, including the Tijuana Xolos, will fight to bring a title to their organization. The Xolos’ first test in this knockout stage of the competition will be Monarcas Morelia away from home. The game is set to be an evenly matched encounter and should be a great test for the border city side to start off the playoffs in this tournament.
The Xolos had an underwhelming run in the group stage of the Copa MX, and because of this, are unlikely to have a home game in the playoffs even if they reach the final of the competition. Club Tijuana finished first in Group 4 of the tournament with six points from four games.
The Aztec Canines were undefeated in the group stage, but only had one win and three ties in a fairly weak group with Puebla and Atlante. The two ties against Atlante were some of the most disappointing displays in the competition, especially the 1-1 draw away from home where Atlante tied the game in the final seconds. Eduardo Coudet has been using an alternate squad throughout the Copa MX, giving players like Matias Pisano, Enzo Kalinski, Alejandro Guido, and Juan Carlos Nunez playing time.
With the importance of this game, it is unclear if “Chacho” will still use this alternate squad or play some of his more consistent Liga MX starters. Damian Musto is likely to feature in this game after picking up a red card in Xolos’ latest Liga MX game against Club America. The sanction does not apply in the Copa MX, and since the Argentine will not be available for the next league game, he is likely to start in this encounter. Los Xolos are one of the best teams in the Liga MX, currently, undefeated in their last six games, and will look to keep that form going in the Copa MX playoffs. This will not be an easy task for the Xoloitzcuintles, especially away from home in a venue that is tough to get a favorable result from.
Monarcas Morelia started off the Liga MX season slowly, but has picked it up recently and is now in seventh place with 13 points. In the Copa MX, La Monarquia finished first in Group 9 of the competition with 10 points, getting three wins and a draw. Manager Roberto Hernandez has also used an alternate squad for this competition and is likely to keep on using the same squad in this game.
In the Copa MX last season, Hernandez stuck with his alternate squad throughout the competition and managed to reach the final. Morelia lost the final against Chivas de Guadalajara, but put in a very respectable performance throughout the tournament and will be a very tough opponent for Club Tijuana in this game. A deciding factor in the game may be the home-field advantage as the Estadio Morelos has proven to be a fortress for Monarcas Morelia in this season and in the past. La Monarquihasve only lost one game at home in all competitions this season, coming in week 5 of the Liga MX against Pachuca, and have faced some very tough opponents like Club America, Monterrey, and Tigres UANL at the Estadio Morelos. Monarcas Morelia knocked the Xolos out of the Copa MX last season in the quarterfinals at the Estadio Caliente and this should be an even tougher task away from home this season.
Players to Watch
Bolaños made his Liga MX debut in Club Tijuana’s last game against Club America at the Estadio Caliente. The Ecuadorian forward enjoyed a dream debut, coming off the bench and scoring a goal to make it a 1-1 game. Bolaños only played 28 minutes in that game and is unlikely to start in the Xolos’ next Liga MX as he is still adjusting with his new surroundings. This would be a perfect game to start the Ecuadorian so he can get more playing time and see what he can offer in a high-intensity game if he starts in it. Bolaños looked comfortable in the few minutes he received in his debut, seemed to link up well with his teammates, and seems like an exciting player that can generate a spark for the team.
Luis Angel Mendoza
“Quick” is now a consistent bench player for Eduardo Coudet after the signing of Juan Manuel Iturbe and is unlikely to start any games in the Liga MX any time soon. Mendoza has two goals and two assists in just four games as a starter in Liga MX play and has looked very sharp in his limited playing time. Mendoza’s performances have been so consistently good that “Chacho” has to be considering giving him more playing time. This game would be a great opportunity for “Quick” to keep on demonstrating that he can bring something to the team.
The game should be an intense and exciting encounter to kick off the knockout stage of the Copa MX, even if both managers decide to go with alternate lineups. Monarcas Morelia is a tough opponent, especially at the Estadio Morelos, and it is hard to imagine that Club Tijuana will get the win during the 90 minutes. The prediction for the game is a 1-1 result during the 90 minutes and the Xolos getting the win in penalties to advance to the quarterfinals of the competition.