Game: Chivas de Guadalajara vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Saturday, October 28, 2017
Where: Estadio Chivas, Guadalajara, Mexico
Time: 7:06 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos are currently just outside of a playoff spot, currently in 10th place with 18 points. Seventh-place Necaxa and eighth-place Cruz Azul, both in playoff spots, have 21 points, just three points ahead of the border city side.
The Liga MX Apertura 2017 is winding down to its last few minutes as there are only three games left in the regular season. The Aztec Canines have a tough road ahead as only one of the three games is at home and two of the three games left are against teams currently in a playoff spot. The only game that isn’t against a team currently in the top eight will come this Saturday against Chivas de Guadalajara, but this game will be far from easy, especially away from home.
Los Xoloitzcuintles are coming off a win in a penalty shootout against Monarcas Morelia in the Copa MX round of 16, but suffered a 1-0 loss against Atlas in their last league game. The team seemed to lack structure in that loss and perhaps a change in the midfield will generate a spark that will lead to victory in this upcoming game.
In the Clausura 2017 competition, 24 points were the minimum that was required to make it into the top eight, the Xolos need to win two of their last three to reach this mark. This is a very winnable game against a struggling Chivas’ side that has historically struggled against Club Tijuana.
Chivas de Guadalajara has struggled in this Liga MX Apertura 2017, currently in 16th place with 12 points. Los Rojiblancos had an extremely fruitful Clausura 2017 campaign, winning the Copa MX and the Liga MX. The same manager, Matias Almeyda, is at the helm, and the squad is virtually the same with very few adjustments. Almeyda hasn’t seemed to have lost his essence with an attractive style of play intended for his team, but the players just haven’t been performing to the astronomical standards set in the Clausura 2017.
Players who dominated the midfield, like Orbelin Pineda and Rodolfo Pizarro, have been a shadow of their former selves while very young players like Michelle Benitez and Fernando Beltran have had to step up lately. Chivas’ top striker in the Clausura 2017, Alan Pulido, has suffered immense injury problems throughout the season, and as a result has only played in four games this Apertura. Still, this game will not be easy for the simple fact that this is virtually the same squad that lifted the title in the Clausura 2017. Not to mention that the team has progressively improved in the last few weeks with positive showings in significant games.
The latest result for El Rebano Sagrado in the Liga MX was an impressive 3-2 away win against Veracruz. This is the same Veracruz team that gave Club Tijuana a hard-fought scoreless draw at the Estadio Caliente in week 13 of the competition. Chivas is more recently coming off a 1-0 win in the Guadalajara derby against Atlas in the Copa MX round of 16. Matias Almeyda’s men also suffered a slim 2-1 loss to archrivals Club America away from home on Oct.18, but were clearly the better team in that crucial game. On paper, beating the 16th place team in the league should be an easy task, but it could prove to be an arduous one for Club Tijuana.
Players to Watch
The midfield slot next to Damian Musto and Ignacio Malcorra has been the biggest question mark for the Xolos this season. Several players have tried to fill the role, but it seems like none have performed at a consistent level to maintain their starting job. Joe Corona has been having a very disappointing season, while Luis Chavez is coming off a lackluster game against Atlas. Alejandro Guido seems to be the clearest option to play in that position for this game as he is coming off a solid performance midweek in the Copa MX, where he captained the team. The Chula Vista native also shined in his chance to start against Lobos BUAP in week 10 of the competition and could prove to be a vital player in this game.
The Mexican midfielder has clearly been the most exciting player for Chivas this season. He has not been performing at the same level he was in the Clausura 2017, but has had a solid season, scoring four goals and getting three assists in 12 games. Pizarro is Guadalajara’s most dangerous player going forward as he has good technical abilities, good pace, and a potent shot.
Out of the three games remaining for the Xolos in the Apertura 2017 regular season, this is definitely the most winnable one. The game is away from home, but it is against a very inconsistent and unstable Chivas’ side, who have failed to perform in this tournament. There are still five realistic playoff contenders outside of the top eight in the Liga MX and Club Tijuana must get points out of these last three games. This is a must-win game after failing to get a win in Guadalajara last Friday against Atlas, and the Xolos’ season could be over if they come away with a loss. The prediction for the game is a 2-1 win for Club Tijuana, keeping their playoff aspirations alive in this Apertura 2017.
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.