Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Atlas
When: Friday, April 6, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 7:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will play their 14th game in the Liga MX Clausura 2018 this Friday when the Border City Dogs host Atlas at the Estadio Caliente. The match should be a very hard-fought and intense encounter as the teams and fan bases have had bad blood over the past few Liga MX tournaments.
The Xolos are coming off a dreadful 1-0 loss to Veracruz away from home in Week 13 of the competition. A controversial decision by the referee did influence that game, but the Aztec Canines still did not do much going forward in that encounter either. The offense generated few clear opportunities and the shots that were on target were all denied by Veracruz’ goalkeeper Meliton Hernandez. Club Tijuana still has no wins and no goals away from home, but luckily this match against Atlas will be at the Estadio Caliente. The Xolos have won four of six games at the Mictlan and only have one loss, most recently coming off a 1-1 draw against Monarcas Morelia at the venue.
Diego Cocca usually implements an aggressive playing style at home as opposed to his conservative tactics on the road. Cocca’s team has outscored its opponents 11-5 at the Estadio Caliente in six games and should not have a very tough game this Friday.
Gustavo Bou should be ready to start in this clash coming back from an injury and Damian Musto will be back in the midfield after serving a one-match ban. The only player that may not be available for the Argentine manager is Alejandro Guido, as he suffered from an anxiety attack in the last game against Veracruz. The starting XI that Cocca does present should be stronger than the one that was seen last weekend as it should have Bou and Musto in it.
Atlas has been one of the worst teams in the Clausura 2018, now with its third manager of the year at the helm. Gerardo Espinoza is now the boss at Atlas after the departures of Jose Guadalupe Cruz and Ruben Omar Romano.
The results are already improving under Espinoza as Los Zorros are coming off a 3-2 win against Santos Laguna, who has been one of the best teams in the tournament. Espinoza has switched around the lineup and did use some youngsters in that game against Santos like Jose Hernandez (20), Edyairth Ortega (21), and Ulises Cardona (19).
The team from Guadalajara does have some intriguing players like the experienced Rafael Marquez, Ghanaian midfielder Clifford Aboagye, and ex-Xolos’ striker Milton Caraglio. The results have just not been coming in and the inconsistent defense has played a role with 24 goals conceded, tied for third-worst in the league this season. Los Rojinegros are currently in 17th place with 10 points and do not have much to play for anymore with a playoff spot out of reach.
Players to Watch
The former Xolos’ striker has proven to be one of the best forwards in the Liga MX this season and is a player that Club Tijuana could desperately use. The Xoloitzcuintles have still yet to find a consistent striker this season, but a team like Atlas does have one in Milton Caraglio. The Argentine target man has six goals and an assist this season and has scored in Los Zorros’ last three games. Caraglio is a very physical player that can be a massive threat in the air, which can trouble the Xolos’ defenders in this match.
Gustavo Bou has the potential to be that consistent striker for Club Tijuana, but injuries have kept him from filling that role. Bou only has a goal in eight games this year and really needs to step it up if he receives the start this Friday. “La Pantera” has that deadly goal-scoring prowess and is more than capable of exploiting a defense like the one that Atlas carries. Bou was the best player for the Xolos last season and needs to start showing that in this semester.
The Xolos have the best defense in the league, but also have the second-worst offense in this Clausura 2018. All of Club Tijuana’s goals have come at the Estadio Caliente in this competition and it is more than likely that the Xoloitzcuintles will score in this encounter. EVT predicts a comfortable 2-0 win for Diego Cocca’s men that will bring them a step closer to making the playoffs.The Liga MX has proven to be very competitive this season as 15th place Leon is currently just two points behind Tijuana in eighth place. There are only four games left until the end of the regular Liga MX season and the Aztec Canines will luckily have three of those four matches at the Estadio Caliente. Out of these final four games, this match against Atlas is clearly the most manageable and it must be won in order to have any chance of reaching the playoffs.