Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Pumas UNAM
When: Saturday, February 17, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 6:30 P.M. PST
The Tijuana Xolos will play their eighth game in the Liga MX Clausura 2018 this Saturday when the Aztec Canines host Pumas UNAM at the Estadio Caliente.
Club Tijuana is currently in terrible form as the team is winless in its last three games and has not scored in this lackluster run. The Border City Dogs have struggled massively offensively this season as the Xolos have only managed to score three goals in the Clausura 2018. There are currently seven players in the Liga MX that have more goals than Club Tijuana this season and 12 that are on three goals. This offensive drought has been a mixture of many things, including Diego Cocca’s pragmatic style of play and the players not working together.
There are clearly talented players on this roster, like Gustavo Bou and Ignacio Malcorra, but they have not managed to work this season. The defense has been solid in this Clausura 2018, but has crumbled in the past two games, allowing four goals. The Aztec Canines are coming off two consecutive 2-0 losses against Queretaro at home and against Pachuca away from home. The team was nonexistent going forward in this last game against Pachuca as Club Tijuana had no clear scoring opportunities in this match. The loss to Queretaro was even more disappointing as the Xolos were expected to win this match, especially at the Estadio Caliente. Questions are already being asked about the state of the team and about the man in charge, Diego Cocca. Club Tijuana’s next game seems virtually unwinnable against Club America at the Estadio Azteca, making this game much more important.
Pumas UNAM has been one of the better teams in the Liga MX this season, but has proven to be a beatable team.
The Mexico City side is coming off a surprising 2-1 loss against Veracruz at home that not many people expected. Veracruz used its physical presence to get the favorable result, which could be the key to winning this game for Club Tijuana. Pumas UNAM is currently in third place with 14 points and will be a very tough team to beat. David Patino’s side is well-balanced from top to bottom, but its strength certainly lies in the attack. Los Felinos have one of the best strike partnerships in the league in Nicolas Castillo and Matias Alustiza. The pair works very well together and could be a problem for this Xolos’ defense that has been inconsistent recently.
Pumas’ midfield is also very solid with players like Marcelo Diaz, David Cabrera, and Jesus Gallardo, that help the team both offensively and defensively. The defense is the weakest component of the Mexico City side as Alejandro Arribas is the only standout player, but the rest of the backline can be inconsistent at times. Alfredo Saldivar can also prove to be a very inconsistent goalkeeper, which the Xolos should try and expose in this game. Los Capitalinos have scored 12 goals this season, four times more than what the Xoloitzcuintles have managed to put in the back of the net. This game will not be easy for the Border City Dogs, and may even prove to be the toughest task of the season so far.
Players To Watch
Something needs to spark in this Xolos’ offense, and Gustavo Bou is the player that has potential to make that change. In the Apertura 2017, Bou was the standout player from Club Tijuana and virtually the only player that could be a difference maker. The Argentine forward has not managed to be that type of player this season and needs to start doing something to get the Xolos back on track.
Nicolas Castillo is one of the best players in the Liga MX, but Matias Alustiza may just be one of the more underrated ones. The veteran forward has been a consistent goalscorer over the past few years in Mexico, but his efforts have gone under the radar as he has spent most of his Liga MX career with Puebla. Alustiza is quick, agile, clinical, and is a great distributor of the ball as well, and that can be beneficial to any team’s attack. Pumas UNAM is certainly reeking the benefits of his presence this season as he has worked perfectly with Nico Castillo, currently with three goals and an assist in this Clausura 2018.
The Xolos are in terrible form heading into this game and it is hard to imagine that the border city team will manage to beat one of the better teams in the league. This is not an impossible game to win – nothing close to it. But with Club Tijuana’s current form, it does not seem promising. The prediction for this match is a 2-1 win for Pumas UNAM, that will mark the Xolos’ third consecutive loss. It is unclear if Diego Cocca will try out some players that have not received much playing time this season, but that could be the only solution to the current state of the team.