Game: Puebla vs Tijuana Xolos
Where: Estadio Cuauhtemoc, Puebla, Mexico
When: Friday, Nov. 23, 2018
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
This Friday the Tijuana Xolos will play their last game of the 2018 Apertura season to end a very disappointing Liga MX campaign. The Aztec Canines will face Puebla at the historic Estadio Cuauhtemoc in a game without much on the line for either side as both teams are out of the playoff race.
Despite the low stakes of the clash, the game still has the potential to be an entertaining encounter given the two teams involved. The Xoloitzcuintles will round out the season with Colombian interim manager Franky Oviedo with his countryman Oscar Pareja ready to take charge once the season is over. Oviedo will try and get his first win as a Liga MX manager as he lost his first two games in charge of the Prehistoric Dogs. Oviedo’s Xolos have actually already been defeated in Puebla as the border city side fell to Lobos BUAP 3-1 in Week 15.
The Border City Dogs will try and display some dignity in the final game of the season as many players are fighting for a spot on Club Tijuana and some are trying to attract attention from other teams as well. Fabian Castillo is coming off his best game of the season and it will be interesting to see if he can repeat that performance in this match.
The offense with Castillo, Miller Bolanos, Jesus Angulo and whoever Franky Oviedo decides to start should be able to take advantage of an inconsistent Puebla backline, but it will not be an easy game especially away from home. Gibran Lajud and the Xolos defense will also need to step it up as they have conceded six goals in the two games since Franky Oviedo took charge. Club Tijuana is currently in 15th place with 16 points and could finish as high as 12th or as low as 16th after this weekend.
Puebla is currently in 12th place with 19 points and was very close to making the playoffs throughout the regular season. La Franja has an interesting core of players that are already being targeted by the Xolos and other teams and is also led by 70-year-old manager Enrique Meza, who offers a wealth of experience. Meza tends to be aggressive in home games and really push forward with talented attacking players like Lucas Cavallini, Christian Tabo, Francisco Acuna and Omar Fernandez. Goalkeeper Nicolas Vikonis picked up an injury and was subbed out early against Tigres, which impacted the scoreline, but it seems that he will be ready for this game.
Puebla tends to play better at home than on the road and only has two losses at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc this season. Los Camoteros have also defeated top playoff teams at home like Monterrey and Toluca and should have a huge advantage in this encounter. The Xolos only have one win away from home in Liga MX play over the past two seasons and this seems like an arduous task to close out the season.
Players to Watch
Puebla’s top player is a debatable topic, but Lucas Cavallini is by far the most vital player in Enrique Meza’s attack. The Canadian international has had a solid season with six goals scored and two assists as well making him a transfer target for several Liga MX teams come the offseason, including Club Tijuana. Cavallini has scored 19 goals in three Liga MX seasons for Puebla and serves as a dangerous target man with a strong physical presence and decent technical ability as well.
The Colombian forward is coming off his best game ever in the Liga MX as he scored a goal and created a scoring opportunity in the Xoloitzcuintles’ 3-2 loss to Monarcas Morelia. Castillo is clearly Club Tijuana’s most talented player and has the potential to exploit Puebla’s defense in this match with his speed and dribbling ability.
Given the Xolos form away from the Estadio Caliente and recent form recently, EVT predicts a 3-2 win for Puebla in this match. The game should be very entertaining as both teams have inconsistent backlines, which should bring many goals to the Estadio Cuauhtemoc on Friday night.