Tijuana Xolos Liga MX Playoffs Preview: Xolos Face Dangerous Tigres UANL in the Semifinals

Credit: Xolos

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Credit: Xolos

Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Tigres UANL

When: Thursday, May 18, 2017

Where: Estadio Universitario

Time: 7:30 P.M. PST

TV: Univision Deportes

The Tijuana Xolos have advanced to the semifinals of the competition and will now face one of the best teams in the southern hemisphere, Tigres UANL. The series will start in Monterrey at the Estadio Universitario and the Xolos will have an enormous test in this match.

The Xolos are coming off a hard-fought 2-0 victory against Monarcas Morelia in the quarterfinals of the competition. Club Tijuana defeated Morelia by an aggregate score of 2-1 to get to this semi-final match against Tigres UANL. Miguel Herrera seemed to play it safe in that quarter-final matchup against Monarcas Morelia and strategically got himself a ticket to the next round. Miguel Herrera will need to work his magic again in this matchup coming up against a powerhouse in Tigres UANL and a very intelligent manager in Ricardo Ferretti.

It is unclear what lineup or what players “El Piojo” will decide to use in this game. Herrera has rotated between the youngster, Hiram Munoz and the veteran, Juan Carlos Nunez in defense. Then in the attack, the Mexican manager has used both Paul Arriola and Henry Martin. Herrera might want to try and sit back in this first leg which can prove to either be disastrous or very effective. During the regular season, Herrera used this defensive style in certain games to get key victories. The key to this tactic is using a back line with five defenders and utilizing Paul Arriola as a fullback to get some pace and grit in the team. With Gibran Lajud currently in amazing form, this could be a very tough defense to crack. Miguel Herrera cannot go toe-to-toe  against Tigres UANL with the current team he has or this could turn out to be like the 3-0 thrashing we witnessed in the regular season.

Tigres UANL defeated their archrivals, Monterrey, in the quarterfinals by an aggregate score of 6-1. Los Felinos demonstrated the massive powerhouse the team is and how they are the clear favorites for the league title. Counting the quarter-final games, the team from Nuevo Leon has scored 14 goals in their last four games. During the regular season, Tigres UANL did have its blunders, finishing in seventh place with 25 points, but now during the playoffs seem like an unstoppable force.

This first leg at the Estadio Universitario will be the deciding game in the series. The home team could come away with an unbelievable result that the Xolos will not be able to crawl back from in the second leg. If the Aztec Canines can get a draw or a win, the second leg will be very complicated for Tigres UANL. Ricardo Ferretti will likely hit Miguel Herrera with everything in this first leg to try and get an advantage before visiting the Estadio Caliente. Ferretti does count with one of the best rosters on the continent, featuring a frightful attack, a versatile midfield, and the best defense of the Clausura 2017. Tigres’ defense is also very tough to crack, having only conceded a league-low 12 goals during the regular season. Tigres UANL did get a convincing 3-0 win in week 16 of the regular season against the Xolos at the Estadio Universitario and are capable of pulling off a similar result in this game.

Players to Watch

Guido Rodriguez is one of the most important players to the Tijuana Xolos and will need to show up in this game. During the matchup against Morelia, the Argentine did an outstanding job, especially in the second leg of the matchup at the Estadio Caliente. If Miguel Herrera does decide to play defensively, Rodriguez will be the focal point of this tactic. The 23-year-old will need to be as sharp as can be in that defensive midfield role, especially with some injuries in the defense. Rodriguez will also go head-to-head against some of the best midfielders in the Liga MX in Jesus Duenas and his namesake and countryman, Guido Pizarro.

Andre-Pierre Gignac is one of the best players to have ever played in the Liga MX. The French striker was having an off season this Clausura 2017, having scored just five goals heading into the final week of the regular season. Since that final week, Gignac has scored seven goals, including four in the playoffs. Gignac has scored 14 goals in 16 playoff games in his career in the Liga MX and expect the French forward to make an impact during this series.

The Verdict

The match should be a spectacle between two of the smartest managers in the Liga MX. The match should prove to be a tactical battle between Miguel Herrera and Ricardo Ferretti. Two of the best teams in the Liga MX will be facing each other and some of the best players the league has to offer will also be present in this game. The match will not be easy at all for the Xolos and it seems like Miguel Herrera’s best tactic will be to sit back and hope for the best in the second leg. The prediction for the game is a slim 1-0 win for Tigres UANL, just like Monarcas Morelia got in the first leg against Xolos in the quarterfinals. Fuerza Tijuas!

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