Game: Puebla vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017
Where: Estadio Cuauhtémoc
Time: 5:00 P.M. PST
The Tijuana Xolos played their fourth game in the Liga MX Apertura 2017 this past Friday, Aug. 11, against Puebla away from home. The result was an unspectacular, lackluster 1-1 draw against arguably the team with the worst roster in the Liga MX. The Xolos did not go back to the border city, but instead stayed in Puebla, and have been training near the Estadio Cuauhtémoc, which should already provide a bit of an advantage heading into this game.
Staying close to the same surroundings should help Club Tijuana in this match, but if the chemistry and same style of play is present, a favorable result is not expected from this match. The Aztec Canines currently have four points in the Copa MX competition as opposed to only one in the Liga MX. The results, unfortunately, have not been much better as the Xoloitzcuintles narrowly defeated Puebla 1-0 at the Estadio Caliente in their first game and then suffered a disappointing 1-1 draw against Atlante in their second game. That draw against Atlante was woeful, as a goal in the final second of added time impeded the Xolos from taking the three points from the game.
This time on the road should really help the chemistry on the team, which is clearly a problem that was showcased in that 1-1 draw against Puebla. Ignacio Malcorra and Damian Musto almost ended up in a physical confrontation after the referee blew the final whistle, which really showed how deep the problems on this team are. There are several questions regarding the team, including how long Eduardo Coudet will stick as the manager. The Argentine’s “offensive, dynamic, intense” style of play that he promised heading into the season has yet to be seen in full effect. There have been very slight snippets of this style but overall there has not been a positive result by Eduardo Coudet this season. It is also unclear if “Chacho” has found his “ideal” starting 11 yet, but an alternate squad is expected to feature in this game anyway. Only two of the players that started the game against Atlante in the Copa MX played against Puebla this Friday; Luis Chavez and Luis Angel Mendoza.
“Quick” Mendoza will be unavailable for the match as he did pick up a red card in the game against Atlante. Players like Jose Antonio Rodriguez, Enzo Kalinski, Alejandro Guido, Juan Martin Lucero, and Matias Pisano can still use these games to show that they deserve a spot in the starting 11 for Liga MX games. The game should be won by the Xolos, but given the current state of the team, it will not be surprising to see some points dropped at the Estadio Cuauhtémoc.
Puebla has been a very intriguing team this season and has specifically played very well against the Tijuana Xolos. La Franja lost the first encounter between the two teams, narrowly, 1-0 at the Estadio Caliente in the Copa MX. Los Camoteros had plenty of opportunities and were the better team, but a spectacular performance by Jose Antonio Rodriguez impeded Puebla from the favorable result. Rafael Garcia’s team was unlucky once again in the second clash between the two teams that sport jerseys made by Charly Futbol.
This past Friday, Puebla took an unjust 1-1 draw against Club Tijuana at home, the assistant referees and Gibran Lajud playing a significant role in the result this time around. The AR’S impeded a goal from Puebla by calling it offside, even though it was clearly not, and failed to do the same on Gustavo Bou’s goal that gave Tijuana the draw. Gibran Lajud was also spectacular in this game, getting five key saves that impeded Puebla from getting the win despite the blunders from the referees. There are a few players that have stood out for La Franja in these games between Puebla and Club Tijuana, but some of the more notable players have been Francisco Acuna, Felix Micolta, and Carlos Salom. Manager Rafael Garcia does not have a star-studded squad, and on paper does not even have players of the quality of the Tijuana Xolos. But the border city side is struggling and Puebla has put up efforts worthy of victories both times the two teams have faced off.
Players to Watch
Jose Antonio Rodriguez
The goalkeeper has had to step up both times that the Xolos have played against Puebla and it is likely that the same will happen in this game. “Toño” has been making a case to start over Gibran Lajud in Liga MX matches, but it seems like Eduardo Coudet will need a really spectacular performance out of Rodriguez for him to nab that starting role.
It is still very unclear who will be the consistent starter for Eduardo Coudet in place of Paul Arriola in that right-mid/ right wing slot. Luis Chavez and Luis Angel Mendoza did solid work platooning in that spot in Friday’s game against Puebla, but were not really that noticeable. There is yet to be a player that fills in perfectly in that role and provides that explosiveness that is clearly missing from the team. Pisano had a nice pass that led to a goal by Juan Martin Lucero in the game against Atlante and has potential to provide the explosiveness that is missing from the team. Pisano will need to continue to fight for his starting role as Eduardo Coudet looks to assemble his “ideal” starting lineup, and a nice performance in this game could get him the start in Friday night’s game against Santos Laguna.
The Argentine-born Palestinian international is one of the most interesting players in the Liga MX and has been impressive against Club Tijuana. Salom has one goal in the Copa MX, coming in week one against Puebla, but could have had two on his mark against the Xolos if he had been a bit luckier. Salom was impeded of a goal by Antonio Rodriguez on a one-on-one in the first match between the two teams and lost his footing and provided a really weak shot that Gibran Lajud easily saved in the second game. Third time’s the charm and the Palestinian forward is due for a goal against Club Tijuana after coming extremely close on two occasions.
This game is an important one for the Tijuana Xolos. The loss can mean a place out of the knockout stages of the competition. The Xolos are currently leading Group 4 of the tournament with four points after two matches, but Puebla is not far behind with three points. The draw would also be a favorable result for both teams, but the current state of the team demands a win in this game for several reasons. With the recent results and with Puebla proving to be a formidable opponent against Club Tijuana, the prediction for the game is another 1-1 draw. Puebla may even pull off the win and seems like the team more likely to come away with the favorable result from the game.
Francisco, 26, Chula Vista/Tijuana. 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 local soccer scene. Tijuana Xolos, San Diego Loyal, San Diego Wave.