Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Monarcas Morelia
When: Friday, March 16, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time:7:00 P.M. PST
The Liga MX Clausura 2018 is reaching the latter stage of the tournament as only six regular season games are left before the playoffs.
The Tijuana Xolos will play their 12th game in the competition this Friday when the border city side hosts Monarcas Morelia at the Estadio Caliente. The Aztec Canines are coming off an embarrassing 3-1 loss against the New York Red Bulls that saw the team knocked out of the prestigious CONCACAF Champions League tournament. The final aggregate score of that series against New York was a lopsided and woeful 5-1 in the Red Bulls’ favor that has several Xolos’ fans furious and upset. The team is definitely at a low-point this season and now must provide the favorable results in the league. Club Tijuana is currently in seventh place with 16 points, but could easily fall out of the top eight at any moment with how close the league table is. It will be crucial for the Border City Dogs to stack wins at home to make the playoffs, making this is a must-win game on Friday night.
In league play, the Xoloitzcuintles are coming off a slim 1-0 loss against Tigres UANL, but will have a much more simple task at the Estadio Caliente in Week 12. An alternate squad was used by Diego Cocca in Nuevo Leon last weekend, but we should not see that this Friday as there are no longer any midweek games to worry about. Ignacio Malcorra and Juan Martin Lucero seem to be fully fit to play in this match and should feature in this clash. It is unclear if Gustavo Bou will be available for this match, but it does seem unlikely at the moment. A strong squad should still be presented by Diego Cocca that should be able to pick up the three points in front of the currently disappointed home support. The Argentine’s tactics at the Mictlan are very clear and he should demonstrate an exciting and offensive team in this encounter.
Monarcas Morelia is a team that is in a similar situation as Club Tijuana, currently in fifth place with 19 points.
La Monarquia is on the brink of a playoff spot, but with how contested the league is, it is unclear if Roberto Hernandez’s men will finish in the top eight. Like the border city side, the team from Michoacan is great at home, but does struggle massively on the road. Monarcas Morelia has just one win from eight away games in all competitions in 2018 and it will be a very difficult task to come away with any points from this match at the Estadio Caliente. Morelia has a very solid attack, with players like Peru international Raul Ruidiaz and Chilean playmaker Diego Valdes. Those two players have combined for six goals and two assists in this Clausura 2018 and will be some of the key players to watch on Roberto Hernandez’s squad. The defense is not the best, but is led by club captain Gabriel Achilier and also counts with a formidable goalkeeper in Sebastian Sosa. Morelia is a decent team, but is beatable away from home, making this a very winnable game for the Aztec Canines.
Players to Watch
“Nacho” is back in full force and Club Tijuana and Xolos’ fans should be very happy as he can prove to be the difference maker in certain games. The Argentine midfielder always seems to give his full effort and rarely has a disappointing performance. Malcorra’s passes are very precise and he can generate several scoring opportunities going forward, making him a key player to watch in any game.
The Uruguayan keeper received plenty of attention last season because of his outstanding performances, but has been a lot more subtle this season. Sosa is still a great shot stopper and can still provide spectacular displays on his day. The Border City Dogs have been struggling to finish lately, with 37 shots and just one goal in a two-game series against the New York Red Bulls, and Morelia’s goalkeeper may prove to be an antagonist in this encounter.
The Xolos need a win after letting down the loyal fan base with their disastrous performance in the CONCACAF Champions League. This team must aim for the playoffs, and in order to do that, they must win every game possible at the Estadio Caliente. Club Tijuana will have the home-field advantage and should be motivated to get the three points from the match. EVT predicts a 2-1 win for the Aztec Canines in a game that should prove to be enticing and intense.
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.