The Tijuana Xolos started out the Apertura 2017 tournament with a 2-0 defeat against Cruz Azul and were looking for their first three points in this week 2 matchup against Necaxa away from home. The “new-look” Xolos under Eduardo Coudet embarked on a nearly 1,500-mile trip to Aguascalientes looking for redemption.
Unfortunately, the Argentine manager and the border city side did not find redemption and still encountered severe problems in the game. The Xoloitzcuintles fell by the minimum score of 1-0 and played an unappealing physical encounter with Necaxa throughout the 90 minutes.
Eduardo Coudet opted for a 4-4-2 formation again even after the formation seemed to lack in a lot of areas for this team in the opening game against Cruz Azul. Gibran Lajud was the man in between the sticks. Matias Aguirregaray, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Alejandro Donatti, and Damian Perez made up the back line. The midfield consisted of Joe Corona and Damian Musto in the middle and Ignacio Malcorra and Matias Pisano out on the wings. Finally, the two strikers for Coudet were Gustavo Bou and Juan Martin Lucero.
There were four modifications in the starting 11 from the week 1 clash at the Estadio Caliente. Alejandro Donatti replaced Emmanuel Aguilera in the back line, Joe Corona and Matias Pisano replaced Mauricio Cuero and Alejandro Guido in the midfield and Gustavo Bou replaced Henry Martin up top.
These changes were all promising and made sense with the exception of replacing Emmanuel Aguilera for Alejandro Donatti. Aguilera looked solid in the opening game of the season and warranted another start in the starting 11 for Eduardo Coudet. This decision did come back and haunt “El Chacho” as Donatti was red-carded in the encounter. The lone goal of the game fell early, in the 20th minute of the match to the home side. At this point, Necaxa did look like the superior side and received a dangerous free kick just a few feet away from the upper left side of the Xolos’ penalty area. Gibran Lajud failed to catch a dangerous cross that was fired into the penalty area which resulted in the lone goal of the game. One of Necaxa’s players acquired the sphere inside the penalty area, then passed it to Jesus Isijara, who had a very clear shot in front of Club Tijuana’s net for the 1-0 lead.
After that goal, the Xoloitzcuintles seemed unmotivated to perform but a red card to Necaxa’s Miguel Angel Ponce in the 29th minute made the away team look a whole lot better. Club Tijuana was trying but could not take advantage of being a man up as Los Rayos pushed back and defended the lead brilliantly. The Xolos were not attacking as much as they should have anyway but creativity and offense still lacked in the midfield even with Joe Corona and other adjustments with the team.
The goal scorer for Necaxa, Isijara was roughed up during the rest of the encounter, and even fractured his nose just before the half time whistle. Club Tijuana looked like it was the team that was a man down as the second half began but soon the Xolos were a man down as well. In the 47th minute, Alejandro Donatti clashed with Luis Perez, fell on the ground and could not control his temper as the Argentine kicked Perez near his face.
The Xolos were losing even more control and after that red card, the game was finished. Eduardo Coudet opted for a safe substitution and switched out Matias Pisano for Michael Orozco which did not help the struggling offense at all. Enzo Kalinski did make his debut with the border city side as he came on for Joe Corona in the 61st minute. Corona had a lackluster performance in his first game back from the Gold Cup but Kalinski did not do much in his limited time either. After the game became a physical battle between 20 players on the pitch, Eduardo Coudet opted for an offensive substitution but it was much too late, coming in the 82nd minute. Henry Martin replaced Damian Perez but the game was done and dusted by the time the Mexican striker came in. The encounter was another weak and disappointing effort by the Aztec Canines.
Some of the better players on the pitch were Ignacio Malcorra and Gustavo Bou who tried to create opportunities going forward but not much resulted from those chances. Club Tijuana has looked like the worst team in the Liga MX so far with an uncreative and stagnant midfield. There needs to be a massive change in Eduardo Coudet’s tactics and also within the team to see what the ideal starting 11 is going forward. The Xolos will face Aviles Hurtado and one of the best teams in the Liga MX, Monterrey next Friday along with a midweek Copa MX clash on Tuesday, August 1 against Puebla.