Game: Monterrey vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Saturday, May 5, 2018
Where: Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Monterrey, Mexico
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will play the second-leg of their Liga MX Quarterfinals fixture against Monterrey this Saturday, May 5 at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer.
Club Tijuana came out of the first-leg with a manageable 1-1 result against Los Regios. It was not an ideal result as Monterrey can qualify for the semifinals with just a 0-0 or 1-1 tie. The Xolos need a win or a tie of two goals or more to advance to the next round of the Liga MX playoffs. The Border City Dogs were clearly the better team in the first-leg with 63-percent possession and 17 total shots, but countless scoring opportunities were wasted by Los Fronterizos. Damian Perez also suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon, as reported by reporter Said Rodriguez, and could potentially miss this game.
It would not be surprising to see Diego Cocca try to play it safe and bank on a counterattack to come away with the series. While this is a very risky tactic, it is the one that the Argentine manager has opted for all season in away games. The only goal in the first leg that was scored by the Xoloitzcuintles was a powerful free kick by Ignacio Rivero. While this goal needed some luck to find the back of the net, the Xolos created several chances, and players like Gustavo Bou and Miller Bolanos had solid performances. The Aztec Canines are capable of getting a favorable result at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer, but will need to be much more clinical than in the first leg.
Monterrey had much less possession time than Club Tijuana in the first leg, but it was expected with Antonio Mohamed’s counter-attacking style of play.
“El Turco” did admit that the Xolos were better than his team last Wednesday, but it could be a completely different tale this Saturday. Los Rayados will have the home-field advantage at the massive Estadio BBVA Bancomer, which holds over 50,000 spectators. Monterrey only lost one game at home all season and is on a three-game win streak at the fortress. Los Regios have outscored their opponents 9-2 in this winning streak and will present a very tough match. The only goal scored for Antonio Mohamed’s side on Wednesday was via a potent long-range strike by Dorlan Pabon.
The Argentine manager has several players on his team like Pabon, Alfonso Gonzalez, and Aviles Hurtado, that possess a powerful strike. This could be a challenge for Gibran Lajud and company, but the Mexican goalkeeper was on point in the first leg, and will need to be again.
Players to Watch
Lajud has been one of Club Tijuana’s best players this season and has been a factor in nearly every away game throughout the competition. The Mexican goalkeeper kept a clean sheet when the Xolos visited the Estadio BBVA Bancomer earlier in the season and will need to pull it off again. Lajud was key in the first leg with a couple of crucial saves, and will surely be tested constantly on Saturday night.
Hurtado left a lot to be desired in the first leg of this series, and in the entire Clausura 2018 in general. The Colombian forward was booed by Rayados’ fans throughout the year, including when he missed a penalty against Club Tijuana earlier in the season. The 31-year-old was one of the best players in the Liga MX in 2017, but needs to turn it around quickly in 2018. There were flashes of potential and class that showed that Hurtado still has a lot to offer and he is always a very dangerous player against any team he plays.
The Aztec Canines need a win or a draw by two goals or more to advance to the semifinals, but this seems like an almost impossible task in Monterrey. The game should be extremely hard-fought and should prove to be a physical duel as well. EVT predicts a 1-1 draw that will leave Club Tijuana out of the playoffs due to Monterrey’s higher seeding.