Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Puebla F.C.
When: Friday Jan.13
Time: 7 P.M. PST
Where: Estadio Caliente
TV: Azteca America
Soccer is back in the border city of Tijuana, as the Xolos play their first home game of the Clausura 2017 season on Friday.
The Xolos are set to take on the struggling Puebla F.C. who, just like the Monarcas Morelia, are fighting for redemption this season. The match will be sold out, and should be a thrilling contest that should go the Xolos way when all is said and done.
The Xolos are coming off a very busy week with many issues that can affect the team negatively in the long run. The big news from Tijuana this week was that the Xolos did lose their main star, Dayro Moreno, to Colombian team, Atletico Nacional. The Xolos are also coming off a very unjust lost in week one against Monarcas Morelia. Tijuana fell 2-0 against Morelia in a game where the Xolos were the dominant team. Tijuana’s players just could not capitalize on the opportunities they had; out of 17 shots only four shots were on target. Aviles Hurtado and Martin Caraglio did not prove to be clinical at all. Hopefully, freshly signed Juan Martin Lucero plays in this game. The Xolos clearly need someone who can put away the opportunities like Dayro Moreno has done in the past. For now, Hurtado and Caraglio have not been the answer for the Xolos. Tijuana, however, should have no problem securing this week two matchup against Puebla F.C. The “Estadio Caliente” is a fortress for the Tijuana Xolos. Last season the Xolos only lost one game at home and it was to Tigres UANL, who went on to be the Champions of the Apertura 2016. All other games at “Estadio Caliente” were won. Not even a single took place in Tijuana’s fortress in the 2016 campaign.
Puebla F.C. are among several teams fighting to stay on the top flight of Mexican soccer this season. They are just seven points away from Monarcas Morelia in the relegation table currently, but its early. If Morelia and Veracruz can keep on performing, Puebla may be in for some real trouble. Puebla have really not reinforced their team a great deal this season and have lost their best player from last season, Matias Alustiza. That being said, Puebla F.C. did just sign Colombian midfielder, Carlos Mario Rodriguez and Argentine striker, Federico Gonzalez. It remains to be seen, however, if the pair will be ready to play on Friday. For now, Puebla have one of the worst starting 11’s in all of the Liga MX. They have no one on their roster who can be a game changer, like Matias Alustiza was once for them. They do not even possess someone who can be as skillful as Tijuana’s Aviles Hurtado or as clinical as Milton Caraglio. Puebla F.C. are coming off a tough loss at home against Monterrey, where they fell 3-2 via an 86th minute penalty. While Los”Camoteros” did put up a fight, they never really stood a chance against Monterrey.
Puebla F.C. have dominated the Xolos in the most recent matchups. The “Camoteros” have not lost in the previous five games that the two teams have played. Puebla F.C. have tied once and have taken four W’s in the past five encounters. The last time Tijuana beat Puebla was in the Clausura 2014, where the Xolos beat Puebla by a score of 3-1. Since then, Puebla have dominated the Xolos over the years, but I would not rely on history for this game. Matias Alustiza had played a huge role in the previous encounters. Without him, and the current squad Puebla possesses, I would not be too worried about past history on Friday.
Players To Watch
Juan Martin Lucero ST-Xolos
Hopefully, Tijuana’s new signing will be ready to go on Friday the 13th to kick off his Liga MX career. The Xolos clearly need a change of pace and 25-year-old Lucero may just be the answer. Lucero excelled in the Malaysian league in 2016, scoring 16 goals in 22 appearances. While it is not the best league in the world, Lucero has proven that he can be clinical in front of net, which is what the Xolos are currently needing. Hopefully Juan Martin Lucero can get the nod and start his Liga MX career on the right foot.
Martin Caraglio ST-Xolos
The Argentine striker was not clinical at all in last weeks game against Monarcas Morelia. Caraglio missed several chances, which may have helped the Xolos secure the W. While Caraglio was not performing, he did find ways to position himself perfectly in front of the net. Puebla’s defense is on par with Morelia’s, so if the 6-foot-1 striker can find the spaces, the goals should follow.
Alexis Canelo ST- Puebla F.C.
Puebla’s only goal scorer from last week, Canelo managed to get on the scoring sheet twice against Monterrey. Canelo really hasn’t shined at all in the past. In the Apertura 2016 season, he only managed to net himself two goals in nine appearances. At 24, Canelo is still fairly young and we could be seeing a breakout season from the Argentine striker. With Matias Alustiza gone, it could be Canelo’s time to shine with Puebla F.C.
Despite what last week’s score might say, Tijuana’s defense was actually not bad at all. It took a wonder goal from Carlos Adrian Morales for Morelia to get on the score sheet. Then the second goal came very late in the 91st minute of the game. Manuel Lajud was solid, as he had at least three key saves in the game, including a penalty save. Puebla’s defense was very shaky in their last game as they allowed three goals. The “Camoteros” team overall is a mess, and I cannot see them winning this game. Cristian Campestrini is a solid goal keeper for Puebla, however so I am predicting that the Xolos come out on top by the minimum score of 1-0. I feel like Martin Caraglio will position himself perfectly and find the back of the net in this game. That is the prediction for this week. Hopefully, the Xolos can come away with a positive result on Friday the 13th. Fuerza Tijuas!