The Tijuana Xolos played their ninth match in the Liga MX Clausura 2018 on Saturday as the border city side traveled to Mexico City to play Club America at the Estadio Azteca.
The Aztec Canines were the heavy underdogs heading into the encounter, and once the starting XI was leaked, defeat seemed almost inevitable for Club Tijuana. Diego Cocca opted to use five players that are not consistent Liga MX starters in his starting lineup, clearly prioritizing the CONCACAF Champions League instead of the domestic league. Despite the alternate players, the tactics did not change for Diego Cocca as he used the same formula he has been using to achieve favorable away results this season.
The Argentine manager played a very conservative style of play and took very few risks in this game. Cocca inclusively used a 5-4-1 formation, which Club America could not break down throughout the 90 minutes as the game ended scoreless.
Gibran Lajud played a huge role in the victory for the Xoloitzcuintles as he continued his form that has made him one of the better goalkeepers in the Liga MX this season. Club America seemed frustrated in this match as the team had 20 total shots and nothing to show for it. All five former Xolos players (Carlos Vargas, Emanuel Aguilera, Guido Rodriguez, Joe Corona, and Henry Martin) featured in this match for Miguel Herrera. Henry Martin had a few dangerous moments. Joe Corona also had a potent shot that was saved by Gibran Lajud. For the Xolos, not many players stood out offensively as the team did not push forward a lot during the match.
The 0-0 result was a tremendous one for the Border City Dogs, especially considering the alternate lineup that was used in the match. Club America is still undefeated and this was arguably one of the Xolos best results this season. The product on the pitch was not enticing, but the result was worth as much as a win for Diego Cocca. The Xolos will now play the second leg of their CCL matchup against Motagua this Tuesday at the Estadio Caliente and will also host Lobos BUAP for a Liga MX fixture this Friday.
Man Of The Match: Gibran Lajud
Lajud has arguably been the Xolos’ best player this season and had another performance worthy of deeming him the man of the match. The Mexican keeper’s standout saves came when it mattered towards the end of the encounter. One of his best was on a one-on-one against his former teammate, Henry Marin. Lajud also stopped long-range efforts by William Da Silva and Joe Corona and was crucial to the result.
Main Talking Point: Lineup
The lineup that Diego Cocca opted to go for was as follows: Gibran Lajud, Pablo Aguilar, Damian Perez, Michael Orozco, Hiram Munoz, Jesus Chavez, Damian Musto, Ignacio Rivero, Julio Angulo, Rubio Rubin, Juan Martin Lucero. It is incredible that Xolos managed to get this result, but it was even more incredible that the Prehistoric Dogs did this with five players in the lineup that had not been consistent starters this season. Gibran Lajud was clearly the standout, but players like Hiram Munoz and Jesus Chavez also put in a solid effort. This game did demonstrate that Club Tijuana has plenty of depth, which is a breath of fresh air with the CONCACAF Champions League competition as well.
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.