Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Monterrey
When: Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 7:30 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos have made the Liga MX Clausura 2018 playoffs, but now have the arduous task of facing Monterrey in the quarterfinals of the competition.
The Border City Dogs finished the Clausura 2018 regular season in sixth place with 25 points, but had a pretty average season. Club Tijuana had no wins on the road and inclusively just one away goal this season. The Xolos’ backline was the best in the league as it only allowed 12 goals, but the offense was the worst out of the playoff teams, with just 18 goals. The Aztec Canines did finish off the competition undefeated in their last four games and with two consecutive victories at the Estadio Caliente.
The Xolos did not allow any goals in these two wins at home against Chivas de Guadalajara and Toluca. Diego Cocca has stuck with the same tactics all season long as he has tried to take more risks and be more offensive at home while playing a conservative playing style on the road. The Argentine manager will try and make his team the protagonist in this first leg at the Estadio Caliente. The formation is likely to be a 4-2-3-1 and the lineup should be identical, or very similar, to the one that was used against Toluca last Friday.
Monterrey was one of the best teams in the Liga MX Clausura 2018 as it finished in third place with 29 points and is seeking redemption after failing to win the Liga MX Apertura 2017 last season.
Los Rayados won the Apertura 2017 edition of the Copa MX last season, but finished as the runners-up in the Liga MX to archrivals Tigres UANL. Los Regios finished the tournament undefeated in their last six games, and with only four losses. Monterrey also finished the Clausura 2018 as the best offensive team in the league with 30 goals. Antonio Mohamed did not counter with any standout players offensively, but had more of a solid, collective team effort. Alfonso Gonzalez led the team with six goals, but he has struggled to be a starter in recent games, showcasing the depth on Monterrey.
Striker Rogelio Funes Mori has missed the last few games due to an injury, but could be back for this game on Wednesday night. Monterrey has a menacing attack with players like Funes Mori, Dorlan Pabon, Carlos Sanchez, and Aviles Hurtado. The defense is also rigid with players like Nicolas Sanchez, John Stefan Medina, and Leonel Vangioni, and could be very tough to break down. The Xolos will have a very tough task against Monterrey, and against their former manager Antonio Mohamed, who led Club Tijuana to a championship in 2012.
Players to Watch
On his day, the Colombian forward can be one of the best players in the Liga MX, as he proved with Club Tijuana in previous seasons. Hurtado has the speed to burn, an immense dribbling ability, and a very decent shot on him as well. Hurtado had a slow season with just four goals, but he did score two goals at the Estadio Caliente the last time he visited it in the Apertura 2017 competition.
Miller Bolanos was the best offensive player for the Aztec Canines this season, statistically, with five goals. However, in terms of talent, Gustavo Bou may still be the best player on the Xolos and he has showcased that in recent games. The Argentine forward has been limited in his role this season as Diego Cocca has played him more as a winger than a striker. Bou has still been productive, with three goals and an assist, and looks to be heating up heading into the playoffs.
This should be a very entertaining and intense game between the best offense and the best defense in the Liga MX. The Xolos were very solid at home with just one loss and six wins in nine games, but will face a very formidable foe. EVT predicts a 0-0 result in what should be a very hard-fought game at the Mictlan this Wednesday.
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.