Game: Pachuca vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017
Where: Estadio Hidalgo, Pachuca, Mexico
Time: 6:30 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos are currently undergoing a major transitional phase now without manager Eduardo Coudet.
Interim manager Diego Torres stepped in and achieved a massive 2-1 victory against Leon this past Friday in his first game in charge of the club. The Mexican manager used a 4-4-2 formation and the team played very well and demonstrated grit and tremendous effort throughout the encounter. That game was in the 16th round of matches in the Liga MX, but now it is time for Torres to focus on the Copa MX. Club Tijuana would need a miracle to get into the playoffs in the Liga MX, but is in the quarterfinals of the Copa MX. This competition could very well be the Xolos’ only shot at a title this season.
Club Tijuana defeated Monarcas Morelia in a penalty shootout in the round of 16 of the competition to get to this quarter-final match. Eduardo Coudet was still the man in charge in that game and only used two consistent Liga MX starters in Damian Perez and Emanuel Aguilera. Of course, the Xoloitzcuintles had a much better chance of making the Liga MX playoffs at the time of that game and it is unclear if Diego Torres will now opt to use some of the team’s more consistent starters.
There is likely to be at least a few adjustments from last Friday’s lineup against Leon, but we could be seeing players like Gustavo Bou, Juan Iturbe, and Ignacio Malcorra. The game will be tough against a Pachuca side that has a very talented squad and tends to play very well at home. The Aztec Canines got the better of Los Tuzos when the two teams met at the Estadio Caliente in week 7 of the Liga MX Apertura 2017. The Xolos came away with a slim 2-1 victory, but Pachuca put up a tremendous fight and was a man down for most of the game as Victor Guzman received an early red card. This match has major importance for both the Xolos and Diego Torres as Club Tijuana is trying to get back on track after several problems and Torres is trying to become the permanent head coach of the border city side.
Pachuca has been one of the most disappointing teams in Mexican soccer this season, out of the running for a playoff spot in the Liga MX and now with only the Copa MX in sight. Los Tuzos are coming from a devastating 1-0 loss against Queretaro at home that ended their Liga MX campaign. Manager Diego Alonso had one of the best rosters in the league to work with, featuring players like Edson Puch, Erick Gutierrez, Omar Gonzalez, and Keisuke Honda. The team failed to perform throughout the Liga MX tournament, but has been successful in the Copa MX now in this quarter-final stage. Pachuca finished first in Group 8 of the competition and defeated Zacatepec 5-0 in the round of 16. Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda particularly had a very impressive performance in that game with two goals. Diego Alonso used a very potent lineup in that game against Zacatepec and is likely to use a formidable starting XI for this game, especially with no chance at making the playoffs in the Liga MX.
Players to Watch
Honda was brought in as a superstar signing, but failed to live up to expectations in his first few weeks in Mexico. The Japanese international looks to be adjusting well to the Mexican game and is now consistently delivering high-caliber performances. Honda had one of his best games in Pachuca’s 5-0 win against Zacatepec in the round of 16 in the Copa MX, scoring two goals. The 32-year-old brings a wealth of experience, an exceptional passing ability, vision, technical ability, and a tremendous shot.
Juan Martin Lucero
The Argentine striker is coming off a huge game against Leon, where he managed to score the game-winner off the bench. Eduardo Coudet did not consider Lucero for many matches, but he did feature in that round of 16 match against Monarcas Morelia. Lucero scored one of the Xolos’ two goals in that game, and after a strong performance against Leon, he should get the start in this game and prove to be one of the players to watch.
This match is vital to both teams as both are not going to be in the Liga MX playoffs. Both teams underachieved in the Liga MX and now need this Copa MX trophy to make up for the lackluster displays in league play. Particularly for the Xolos, this would be a huge win as the semi-final match would be against Atlante at the Estadio Caliente. This would give the fans one more game at home and a likely chance of featuring in the final against either Club America or Monterrey. But before that, the team must get past a solid Pachuca team, and this will be no easy task, especially away from home. The prediction for the game is a 1-1 result in regulation time and the Xolos taking another penalty shootout to advance to the semifinals of the Copa MX.