Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Pumas UNAM
When: Saturday, October 27, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 7:06 P.M. PST
TV: Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports Prime Ticket
Radio In English: FM 98.9
The Tijuana Xolos will play their 14th game in the Liga MX 2018 Apertura this Saturday, Oct. 27, at the Estadio Caliente against Pumas UNAM. The Aztec Canines are still very much in the playoff race, but could easily fall out of it after this weekend as the league remains highly competitive.
Club Tijuana is currently in 13th place with 16 points, four points out of a playoff spot due to goal differential. There are only four games remaining in the regular season, and with only two home games remaining, it is not a stretch to say that this is a must-win game for the Xolos. The Border City Dogs are in horrendous form, winless in their last two games and coming off an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Club America away from home. The Xoloitzcuintles have only scored one goal in their last three games and have the second-worst offense in the tournament with just 10 goals scored.
The defense can be reliable in most games, but it is not solid enough to carry this team without any support from the frontline. Juan Martin Lucero and Erick “Cubo” Torres are among the most ineffective forwards in the league, and the top scorers for Club Tijuana (Miller Bolanos and Luis Fuentes) only have two goals each. It is clear as day that manager Diego Cocca must make some changes to his lineup, but it is unlikely to see a drastic change from the Argentine manager. The only thing going for Cocca’s team in this match is the home-field advantage as the Xolos are still undefeated at home this season.
Pumas UNAM has been one of the better teams this season, currently in fourth place with 23 points, and could potentially secure a playoff spot with a win in this match. Los Capitalinos are in impeccable form, undefeated in their last seven games, coming off a 3-3 draw against Tigres UANL at home.
The Mexico City team has the second-best offense in the tournament with 25 goals scored and is only two goals off the best, Club America. Players that were brought in this season like Felipe Mora, Carlos Gonzalez, and former Xolos’ player Ignacio Malcorra, have been the standouts so far. Malcorra should be one of the main players to watch in this clash as he knows the synthetic turf of the Estadio Caliente quite well. The defense, on the other hand, is a weak point for Pumas UNAM with inexperienced and inconsistent players like Alan Mendoza, Luis Quintana, and Alan Mozo in it. Goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar is also unreliable and is prone to making blunders, something that the Xolos’ attackers should try to exploit.
Player to Watch
The Paraguayan striker scored a hat-trick against Tigres UANL last week and has to be the main player to watch on Pumas UNAM in this encounter. Gonzalez has six goals and three assists this season and could potentially challenge for the scoring crown in the Liga MX with a couple more impressive performances. The South American attacker is not the quickest or most skillful player, but has tremendous positioning and finishing that make him one of the most lethal strikers in the league.
It is a given that Gibran Lajud will be tested in this match, and it is important for the Mexican goalkeeper to make a comeback after his worst performance of the season against Club America.
Pumas UNAM has one of the biggest fan bases in Mexico and there should be plenty of navy blue and gold jerseys at the Estadio Caliente on Saturday night. The Xolos will have the home-field advantage at the Estadio Caliente with the synthetic turf, but it may make less of an impact with all the Pumas’ fans in the stands. EVT predicts a 2-1 win for Pumas UNAM at the Mictlan as Los Felinos have the better team and are in much better form heading into this clash.
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.