Game: Puebla vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Friday, August 11, 2017
Where: Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla, Mexico
Time: 5:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will travel to Puebla this week to try to achieve that first win in the Liga MX under Eduardo Coudet. It has been a grim start to this era with “Chacho” at the helm, but Club Tijuana will face the only team that Coudet’s team has been able to beat this season. In week 2 of the Copa MX, the Xolos defeated Puebla 1-0 at the Estadio Caliente. Unfortunately, the goal was by Paul Arriola, who recently made a surprising move away from the border city to the MLS with D.C. United. Club Tijuana’s struggles are set to be amplified with this move as Arriola was one of the lone bright spots on a team that seems to be lacking focus and structure going forward in attack.
It will be interesting to see who Eduardo Coudet uses to replace the American in his starting 11. Luis Angel Mendoza looked solid in the midweek Copa MX game against Atlante despite the red card he did receive. The most likely option to replace Arriola is Matias Pisano, who has had some decent performances recently and can offer a bit of what the team has been missing.
The Aztec Canines are coming off a humiliating 3-0 loss against Monterrey at home, where Aviles Hurtado emerged as the hero at the Estadio Caliente once again, but in a different uniform. In the Copa MX, the Xoloitzcuintles also had a very disappointing 1-1 draw against second division side Atlante. Eduardo Coudet presented a very solid lineup, but shockingly gave up a 95th-minute equalizer that had to drain a lot of motivation from the team. The border city team will surely go into this game with a serious lack of momentum and self-esteem. The good thing is that the previous win against Puebla will be in the player’s heads and that slight confidence may bolster the team to another win on Friday night. This is a must-win game for Eduardo Coudet, and a loss can seriously spiral this team into an unsuccessful and lackluster season. The Xolos are at least expected to score after 270 minutes without a goal in the Liga MX under Eduardo Coudet.
Puebla arguably has the worst roster in the Liga MX, but even this team has managed to score and get a point in this tournament. Los Camoteros started off the Apertura 2017 with a massive 5-0 loss against Tigres UANL and then turned it around with a 1-1 draw against Monarcas Morelia, but last week had another disappointing loss against Veracruz. There are some interesting players on this Puebla side, like Francisco Acuna, Felix Micolta, and Carlos Salom, but the standout has to be the goalkeeper Moises Munoz. The Xolos may struggle massively to surpass Munoz’s net, especially with the shaky form the offense is currently in. The Xolos, of course, defeated Puebla in the Copa MX with an unconvincing 1-0 score line. Puebla also defeated Atlante 1-0 in the Copa MX in week 1, which was something that the border city side was unable to do. The home-field advantage may also play a role in the game even if the home support is not renowned for being the best in the Liga MX. Puebla may complicate the game for Tijuana, but the home team should still not walk away with any points from the encounter.
Players to Watch
Pisano is likely to be Arriola’s replacement on that right-hand side and his role could be very vital going forward with this team. The Argentine has some moments, but has never really been consistent with his performances. Pisano does have superb dribbling and passing abilities that can be deadly to any defense if he can fully take advantage of them. The 25-year-old will not offer the same type of spark as Paul Arriola, but is the most suitable replacement for the American.
After 270 minutes without a goal for the Xolos in the Liga MX, the offense needs to step up and start to get some goals. The main man who was brought in this off-season to get those goals was the Argentine, Gustavo Bou. The former Racing Club striker has had glimpses of his brilliance shown throughout the season, but has been unable to capitalize on that brilliance. Bou is a forward that can dismantle defenses with his abilities, and that needs to be shown against arguably the worst back line in the league. This is a vital game for the entire team, but specifically for Bou. It can be the game that sparks his Liga MX career.
The game on paper does not seem like a very entertaining encounter, but both teams have a lot on the line and should give a solid effort. This match is especially vital for the Xolos and can mark a turning point in the season before going into a downward spiral. While Eduardo Coudet may not lose his job over this game, a loss or even a draw could really put the Argentine directly in the fire. Even a win will not be anything impressive and will just be what was expected of the team, which is why victory is absolutely crucial. The prediction for the game is a comfortable 2-0 win for the Aztec Canines with Gustavo Bou and Ignacio Malcorra providing the goals for the border city side.