Game: Chivas de Guadalajara vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019
Where: Estadio Akron, Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision, Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will play their first game in the Liga MX 2019 Clausura season this Saturday, Jan. 5, against Chivas de Guadalajara at the Estadio Akron. A new Liga MX season starts along with a new era for Club Tijuana with Oscar Pareja managing in his first-ever Liga MX game.
Pareja was brought in the offseason after spending the past four years as the head coach of MLS club FC Dallas. Pareja brings a plethora of experience with youth players that may show in his starting eleven throughout the season.
The Aztec Canines did not have a very busy offseason in terms of signings as the team failed to address the need for a new striker. Ignacio Palou and the front office may still make some more transfers, but it will be increasingly difficult with the season now in full swing. For now, the Xolos brought in experienced centre-back Diego Braghieri and fan favorite Joe Corona, who won a league title with Club America last season. The border city team must find a way to improve away from home as it only won one game on the road last season. Pareja must also get the offense going as it was the second-worst in the 2018 Apertura season with only 13 goals scored.
Four players were tied for the top scorers on the team with only two goals each and players like Miller Bolanos and Fabian Castillo really need to step it up this semester. Arguably the Xolos strongest component is now the midfield with players like Diego Rodriguez, Joe Corona, and Ignacio Rivero. The defense is also solid and could improve this season with the addition of the experienced Diego Braghieri. Goalkeeper Gibran Lajud is also one of the standout players on the team but must improve massively from his form in the 2018 Apertura tournament.
Chivas also had a rough 2018 Apertura season, missing out on the playoffs, but have had a busy transfer window to try and improve. Los Rojiblancos added key players like Hiram Mier, Alexis Vega, and Jesus Molina, but also lost some key players like Orbelin Pineda and Angel Zaldivar.
Jose Cardozo’s team was embarrassed at the recent FIFA Club World Cup and will now try and make the playoffs after a three-season absence. Chivas has a well-balanced team and the defense may just be the strongest component with the centre-back partnership of Jair Pereira and Hiram Mier.
The attack also has the potential to be effective with Alan Pulido, Luis Madrigal, and Alexis Vega, who combined for 11 goals scored last season. However, Chivas still has a lot of room for improvement, especially in home matches as Los Tapatios had a horrendous mark of one win, one draw and six losses last season.
Players to Watch
Castillo was easily one of Xolos’ best players last season and still has a lot of room for improvement as he is just getting adapted to the Liga MX. The Colombian winger was coached by Oscar Pareja at FC Dallas and should be very comfortable with his tactics now at Club Tijuana. Chivas’ defense has improved from last season, but can still be inconsistent and Castillo should be able to cause problems down the flanks.
Vega is one of the most promising young strikers in the Liga MX as he has already scored 11 league goals at just 21 years old. The Mexican forward has a great finishing ability and also has decent technical abilities that make him a menace to any defense in the Liga MX.
EVT Predicts a 1-1 draw at the Estadio Akron as there is not much to separate both teams and it should prove to be a hard-fought and intense clash to kick off the new season.