Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Santos Laguna
When: Wednesday, Aug.22, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 7:06 P.M. PST
TV: FS1, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Deportes
Radio in English: FM 98.9
The Tijuana Xolos will play their sixth game in the Liga MX 2018 Apertura this Wednesday, Aug.22, at the Estadio Caliente against Santos Laguna.
The match should prove to be very entertaining and will be a clash between two of three teams in the Liga MX that provide official content in the English language. The Aztec Canines are not off to the best start, currently in 14th place with just five points in five games.
Los Rojinegros are coming off a woeful 3-0 loss to Toluca away from home and will be looking to bounce back from that result. Gibran Lajud and the Xolos’ defense had a poor performance in that match and will need to be in top form this Wednesday night. The Xoloitzcuintles’ offense has also been uninspiring, with just two goals in their last four games, and will need to produce more scoring opportunities.
The Border City Dogs are undefeated at home in all competitions this season and the home-field advantage will be their biggest weapon against Santos Laguna. The new synthetic turf at the Mictlan has been tough on the visiting teams and should provide an edge in this clash to the home team.
Santos Laguna are the current Liga MX champions, having been crowned in the 2018 Clausura competition. However, the team that lifted the title is very different from this one as Santos lost its two starting centre-backs, Nestor Araujo and Carlos Izquierdoz, in the offseason, as well as star forward Djaniny Tavares.
Martin Nervo and Matheus Doria were brought in to replace Araujo and Izquierdoz and both have been doing a solid job so far. The attack already had several exciting players like Julio Furch, Brian Lozano, and Jonathan Rodriguez and has also been in top form this season. Robert Siboldi, the manager that led Santos to its championship, also departed the club just three games into the season, but Los Guerreros are undefeated since he left.
Salvador Reyes Jr. is the current manager and also has help from a pair of former notable Santos’ players in Juan Pablo Rodriguez and Rafael Figueroa as his assistants. The Celestial Warriors have 12 points, are currently in second place, and could finish in first by the end of the week with other results.
Predicted Xolos’ Starting Lineup: Gibran Lajud, Omar Mendoza, Gustavo Canto, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Luis Fuentes, Ignacio Rivero, Diego Rodriguez, Luis Chavez, Fabian Castillo, Miller Bolanos, Juan Martin Lucero
Diego Cocca will likely use his go-to 4-4-2 formation at home, but may make a few adjustments to his 11. Hiram Munoz received a red card against Toluca. It is still unclear if Julian Velazquez will be ready to go, which leaves Gustavo Canto in the centre-back slot next to “Topo” Valenzuela. The attack needs a spark, and that could be Fabian Castillo, who could provide excellent service down the left wing. While Juan Martin Lucero does not deserve to start this game, it is highly unlikely that Diego Cocca will replace him.
Players to Watch
Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Castillo should still be one of the most intriguing players on the pitch. The Colombian winger has showcased his dribbling and passing abilities in the Copa MX and it may be time to start him in a Liga MX game. The attack needs a player like Castillo that can really generate play and be dangerous going forward.
The Uruguayan forward has been Santos Laguna’s best player this season, currently leading the Liga MX with four goals. Los Guerreros are coming off an impressive 3-1 win against Tigres UANL and “Cabezita” played a huge role in the victory with two goals. The South American player has speed, flair, and a knack for scoring, making him a threat for Xolos in this clash.
The Xolos will have the home-field advantage, but it may not be enough against a solid team like Santos Laguna. The team from Torreon has four wins this season and it does not look like a fluke after an impressive victory against Tigres UANL. EVT predicts a 2-1 win for Santos Laguna in a game that should be very competitive and exciting at the Estadio Caliente.