Game: Atlas vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Friday, Oct.20, 2017
Where: Estadio Jalisco, Guadalajara, Mexico
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
This Friday, Oct.20, the Tijuana Xolos will play their 14th game of the Liga MX Apertura 2017.
The border city side will travel to Guadalajara to face Atlas at the historic Estadio Jalisco in a game with very high stakes in play. The match will be between ninth-place Xolos, with 18 points, and 10th-place Atlas, with 16 points. The three points of the game are vital as both teams aspire to make the playoffs by the end of the regular season. Club Tijuana is coming off a positive streak, with a scoreless draw against Veracruz at home, and more recently, a 2-1 win against Lobos BUAP away from home. The offense struggled to finish key opportunities in that 0-0 game against Veracruz, but did manage to generate several important scoring chances. A big factor in not achieving a win against Los Tiburones Rojos was the 4-4-2 formation that Eduardo Coudet used. This left the team vulnerable to counter-attacks and made the attack much less potent without the high-pressing wing-backs. Eduardo Coudet seemed to learn from this game and reverted back to the 5-3-2 formation in the game against Lobos BUAP.
Gustavo Bou stole the show in Puebla against Lobos with a goal and an assist, leading the Prehistoric Dogs to the three points from the game. It is unclear what starting XI “Chacho” will go with in this game but we could see Juan Carlos Nunez get another start in that right wing-back slot. Matias Aguirregaray just had a child and it is unclear if he will be good to start the game against Atlas. Also, while Damian Musto and Ignacio Malcorra are likely to get the start, it is still unknown as to who will get the start alongside the pair in the midfield if Coudet does go for a 5-3-2 formation. Some possibilities include Luis Chavez, Joe Corona, and Alejandro Guido, and it is still unknown what player the Argentine manager will go for. Los Xolos are currently in ninth with 18 points, the same as Necaxa in eighth place, only goal-differential separating the two teams on the table. This game is vital towards making a playoff push as the regular season winds down to its last few games.
Atlas has been a decent team in this Liga MX Apertura 2017, currently in 10th place with 16 points, and will be looking for the three points from the game for a potential playoff push. Los Rojinegros also need the points from the game for their fight to stay in the Liga MX, currently 15th in the relegation table. Los Zorros are coming off a tough 1-0 loss at home against Monarcas Morelia, but enjoyed three consecutive victories before that defeat. Manager Jose Guadalupe Cruz has a wealth of experience and counters with a very talented roster that features many ex-Xolos. As many as five former Xoloitzcuintles could feature for Atlas in Friday night’s match. This includes players like Milton Caraglio, Fidel Martinez, Miguel Fraga, Javier Salas, and Jose Maduena. Apart from the ex-Xolos, the team from Guadalajara has a playoff-worthy roster with players like Matias Alustiza, who has five goals this season, and Ravel Morrison, who is still trying to adjust to the league coming from Europe. The home support always makes a massive presence at the Estadio Jalisco and that home-field advantage from Atlas could be a huge factor in this game that could even cost Club Tijuana the win. Atlas is a threat and has a much better roster than Xolos’ last two opponents, which should make for a very intense match this Friday.
Players to Watch
Bou has proven himself again as Eduardo Coudet’s best player in the Xolos’ 2-1 win against Lobos BUAP. The Argentine striker scored a magnificent goal and basically put the goal on a platter with a perfect assist for Miller Bolanos’ goal in that game. Before that game in Puebla, Bou had not scored in five consecutive games, but will now have the momentum riding from that performance for a standout effort in this game.
The Englishman just joined the Liga MX, coming over from Italian club Lazio this transfer window. Morrison has been hyped up as he has always shown tremendous potential, but has failed to ever unlock that full potential that would make him one of the best players in the world. The 24-year-old started his career with Manchester United, but has had a rocky and winding road since then, now in Mexico with Atlas. Morrison has only played in three league games so far and is coming off his first start. He still clearly needs time to adjust, but there is already immense pressure from local and international media for him to perform at a high level.
The Bulky striker gave Xolos’ fans many great goals, memories, and headaches while a member of Club Tijuana. Caraglio recently joined Atlas this season as part of the Xolos’ rebuilding process and has found some success with his new club. The Argentine has three goals and two assists this season and always seems to be a huge threat to any opposition, especially in set-pieces and aerial play. Alejandro Donatti will need to mark Caraglio precisely to not surrender a headed goal by him that could potentially seal the game for Atlas.
Both teams have the motivation to get the three points from the game and have already proven to be solid teams in this league. That should make for one of the best games this weekend and should also prove to be a decent test for Eduardo Coudet’s men. That being said, this is a very winnable game for Xolos and is almost a must-win game because of how competitive the league is. There are only four games left in the Apertura tournament and none will be easy games for Club Tijuana, but all are winnable games considering the talent this roster has shown. Among the remaining games, this is one where the Xolos should get the three points from if they hope to finish in the top eight and make the playoffs. The prediction for the match is a hard-fought 2-1 win for the Aztec Canines with Milton Caraglio scoring the lone goal for Atlas and Gustavo Bou and Igancio Malcorra scoring for the border city side.
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.