Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Atlas
When: Saturday, April 1, 2017
Where: Estadio Jalisco
Time: 6:00 P.M. PST
TV: Azteca 13
The Xolos will travel to Guadalajara to face Atlas at the Estadio Jalisco this Saturday, April 1. Both teams are in the mix for a playoff spot and should be able to provide an enticing duel. There is a bit of a rivalry between the two teams as well, with previous altercations between fans in the past. The game should be an intense one at one of the most historic stadiums in the Liga MX.
The Aztec Canines are coming from a huge 1-1 draw to Santos Laguna at the Estadio Caliente. The point from the game was a huge morale boost as a goal in stoppage time by Juan Martin Lucero tied it up in the dying minutes of the match. The Xolos are doing well this tournament, currently in fourth place with 17 points, three points back of Chivas de Guadalajara in first place. The main topic of discussion going into the match is that the border city side will be without two important figures for this game. Miguel Herrera was suspended during the match against Santos Laguna for losing his head and arguing with the referees. Then in the stands, ‘Piojo’ had an altercation with a fan. The two incidents cost Herrera a five-game suspension.
This will be the first of five games that Herrera will be out. The Mexican skipper will not be back until week 16 of the Liga MX Clausura 2017. Another absence for Tijuana will be the Argentine midfielder, Guido Rodriguez, who will be serving a one-match ban after two yellow cards in the game against Santos Laguna. Rodriguez has been one of the best players for the Aztec Canines this tournament and his absence will be felt in this game. The Xolos will struggle without the coverage Rodriguez provides in the midfield. The Argentine helps both offensively and defensively and is like an engine that keeps the team going. This game will be tough without Miguel Herrera motivating the players on the sidelines and without Guido Rodriguez in the midfield. The prehistoric dogs still carry a strong roster that can compete in this match, but it will be a tough encounter.
Atlas is like what the Chicago Cubs were in MLB. The team from Guadalajara is a very popular and historic team in the Liga MX, but it has made its fan base suffer for several years. ‘Los Zorros’ last and only title came in 1951, now making it a 66-year drought since their last championship. This tournament, the Red-and-Blacks are doing well, currently in 10th place with 14 points, only out of a playoff spot due to goal differential. Most recently, Atlas fell 2-0 to Monterrey away from home, but before that had not lost in three consecutive games. Manager Jose Guadalupe Cruz at times does play defensively when needed, but recently has been trying to implement a more attacking style of play, especially when playing at home. Atlas fans are known to be among the best in the country and will make their presence felt in this match. Atlas will prove to be a big test for the Xolos, especially playing at the Estadio Jalisco which can prove to be a tough venue to visit.
The teams have faced each other twice within the last six months, one instance coming in the Apertura 2016 tournament where the Xolos came away with a slim 1-0 victory over ‘Los Zorros’ at the Estadio Caliente. A header by Milton Caraglio on a cross by Gabriel Hauche proved to be the difference in the game. The other time the two teams clashed was in a friendly match in December at Mesa College in San Diego. The Aztec Canines also came away with the victory, defeating Atlas 3-1 with two goals by Henry Martin. The Xolos have never won a game against Atlas at the Estadio Jalisco. This will not faze the players, as shown earlier in the year. The Xolos had never won in Leon against Leon but did so in week 5 of the competition, beating the ‘Esmeraldas’ 4-2. The match will be tough for the Xolos and it will be intriguing to see how the home-field advantage can favor Atlas.
Players to Watch
The San Diego native will have a huge responsibility in this game with the absence of Guido Rodriguez. There is no other player on the Xolos as valuable as Rodriguez that can provide great quality defending and going forward, but Joe Corona does bring his own value to the team. Corona does provide some defensive coverage, but his strong suit is in his distribution and linkup play which has been vital to the Xolos’ success this tournament. Without Guido Rodriguez, Corona will be the border city side’s best midfielder and will need to come up huge in this match.
Fidel Martinez is easily one of the most skillful players that the Xolos have ever had. The Ecuadorian forward played in Tijuana from 2012-2014 and was part of the Xolos’ championship team in the Apertura 2012. His dribbling ability and his exotic hair styles earned him the nickname “Ecuadorian Neymar”. He still is a very skillful player and is having a nice tournament with Atlas, having two goals and one assist in eight games as a starter this Clausura. Martinez is one of the more exciting players to watch in the Liga MX. If he scores, expect a very entertaining celebration.
The match will be one of the best this week, with two strong teams that are capable of scoring some goals. The Xolos will have a true test in this encounter without Miguel Herrera on the sidelines and without Guido Rodriguez in the midfield. The Xolos cannot lose this game– a loss would be worrying coming from a draw to Santos Laguna and a loss to Pachuca at home. Atlas will also be motivated to get the win in the match, needing the three points for its playoff push this tournament. The prediction for the match is a hard-fought 1-1 draw, with Milton Caraglio scoring the lone goal for the Xolos and Fidel Martinez scoring for Atlas. The match should be an intriguing duel and should be one to watch this weekend. Fuerza Tijuas!