Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Chiapas
When: Saturday, April 15
Where: Estadio Victor Manuel Reyna
Time: 3:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will kick off week 14 of the Liga MX Clausura 2017 this Saturday, April 15, when they take on Chiapas away from home. The match will be between two teams that have a lot on the line and it should provide an intriguing encounter for the fans.
This will be the third Liga MX game for the Xolos within the last week. The Aztec Canines are undefeated this week so far, getting a draw against Club America on Friday, April 7 and defeating Queretaro on Tuesday, April 11. The win against Queretaro was particularly impressive, winning the game with 10 men on the pitch after Juan Carlos Nunez was red-carded in the 61st minute of the encounter. The red card marked a fourth of the tournament for the Xolos, making them one of the most ill-disciplined sides in the Liga MX. The win was by a narrow margin, getting the 1-0 victory. The lone goal did come via a penalty executed by Aviles Hurtado. Nevertheless, it was still a fantastic W considering the circumstances.
The border city side will travel over 3800 kilometers to one of Mexico’s final frontiers in Chiapas. The main talking point yet again going into the match for Tijuana will be the young and inexperienced defense. The Xolos’ back line will become even more inexperienced in this upcoming game against Chiapas. The 18-year-old, Carlos Vargas, has been starting recently in place of Victor Aguilera. Now with the suspension of the veteran, Juan Carlos Nunez, the 21-year-old, Hiram Munoz, will take over in the defense for Miguel Herrera. Munoz has looked rigid in his limited playing time, looking like an engine out on the field, fighting for every ball. The defense should be able to hold up here, shutting out Club America and Queretaro this past week without much help from the goalkeeper, Gibran Lajud.
Miguel Herrera will be serving his fifth and final game of suspension after getting into an altercation with a referee and a fan. The Mexican skipper will most likely command the game from the stands, giving orders to the assistant coach, Diego Ramirez, via walkie-talkie. The Xolos’ offense is still one of the most potent this tournament with a league-leading 25 goals. The offense will have to be key with an unreliable defense for Miguel Herrera. The Xolos should come out on top in this encounter, although away matches can always present complications, especially being so far away in Chiapas.
Chiapas is one of the youngest teams in the Liga MX, having been established in 2002. The Jaguares have never been a very successful club, having no titles in their 14-year history. In 2017, the club has struggled financially, unable to pay its players at the beginning of the tournament and is in danger of abandoning the top flight of Mexican soccer. Chiapas finds itself in penultimate place on the relegation table, just a point ahead of last place Veracruz. On the regular Liga MX table, the Felines are currently in 15th place with 14 points. The playoffs are not really a possibility for Chiapas at this point with many other stronger sides in contention. Head coach, Sergio Bueno, implements an upbeat, passing style of play that is enticing to watch. Chiapas can be dangerous going forward, but the defense has been a huge liability, giving up the most goals in the Liga MX this year with 22 goals conceded. Chiapas is a struggling franchise, but is motivated to evade relegation and should be able to give a hard-fought encounter here.
Players to Watch
Aviles Hurtado played with Chiapas from 2013-2016, scoring 20 goals in that span, really establishing himself as the player that he is today. The Colombian forward has been one of the best players in the Liga MX this season, getting seven goals and four assists in the Clausura up to this point. Hurtado is the best at creating something out of nothing and generating spaces to get crucial scoring opportunities. Aviles should be a key factor in this game, especially returning to a pitch and climate that he is accustomed to.
Juan Carlos Valenzuela
The captain will have a huge responsibility in this game with an unproven defense with youngsters Hiram Munoz and Carlos Vargas comprising it. Damian Perez is the only other veteran who will make up the defense. But Perez can be unreliable at times, getting caught off because he does push forward a lot. Valenzuela will need to be stable and rigid leading the back line to a possible third consecutive clean sheet.
Chiapas’ defense is among the most unstable in the Liga MX, but the Jaguares do counter with one of the best goalkeepers in Mexico. Munoz, 37, has had a wealth of experience in the Liga MX playing with various teams, including Club America. The Mexican keeper currently leads the league in saves with an impressive 60 saves so far. The Xolos must be able to capitalize on any scoring opportunities they get to get a favorable result in ‘La Selva’.
Going into the game the border city side is the clear favorite, having the much stronger squad. A win here would be crucial to the Aztec Canine’s playoff run, basically securing a spot in the playoffs. Tijuana should be able to get the victory if its forwards can be clinical in front of net. Chiapas does have the motivation and pressure of avoiding relegation. The Felines will play a very physical game, which can work in the Xolos favor if they get fouled inside the penalty area or around it. Victor Malcorra has deadly free kick ability that can be a difference-maker in the game. The prediction for the match is a 3-2 win for the Xolos. The shaky defenses on both teams should allow a nice flow of goals throughout the game and make for an exciting encounter. Fuerza Tijuas!