Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Leon
When: Friday, Nov.3, 2017
Where: Estadio Caliente
Time: 8:00 P.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will have their most crucial game of the Apertura 2017 tournament this Friday when they host Leon at the Estadio Caliente.
Club Tijuana has been making headlines recently due to managerial changes, financial issues, and disciplinary issues. Eduardo Coudet and the Xolos parted ways this past Monday, and now the interim manager is Diego Torres. The details about Coudet’s departure are still foggy, but it is believed that the financial issues the club has had to deal with were a factor.
According to several reports, the team has struggled to pay its players, some players even behind on payments up to two months. Apart from these financial issues, there are also internal issues within the locker room. It has recently been reported by TV Azteca’s David Medrano that two Xolos’ players had a physical altercation in the locker room. The names of the players are still unknown, but it has been said that both players were just brought in this season. Two players that were brought in this season, Damian Musto and Matias Aguirregaray, had a scramble in the Xolos’ game against Atlas and seem like the likely candidates. The loss of either of these players could have an impact on the game, especially Damian Musto in that holding midfield role.
The team is in very good hands under Diego Torres, who has been with Club Tijuana since 2006. Torres played for the Xolos, and despite being only 38 years old, has coached the team at all youth levels. The Mexican manager was in charge of the U-20 team and could incorporate some of the players that have been playing for that team. This includes Colombian midfielder Mauricio Cuero and Argentine midfielder Matias Pisano, who could make an appearance this Friday. It is still very unclear as to what players and formation Torres will use, but it should be good enough to provide a competitive effort in this must-win game.
The border city side is currently in 11th place with 18 points and needs to win its last two league games, and hope that teams like Atlas, Cruz Azul, and Pachuca can’t do the same. The road to the playoffs seems almost impossible at this point, especially considering all the external factors that could play a role other than the actual soccer being played. The soccer hasn’t been much better either recently for the Xolos as the team has only won one of its last seven league games. Hopefully, for the Xolos’ sake, the new man Torres can change things for the better and cement his position as the new Xolos’ manager.
Leon is a prime example that maybe the Xolos should have parted ways with Eduardo Coudet earlier in the season. Los Esmeraldas had a grim start to the tournament and fired coach Javier Torrente after a week 7 loss to Santos Laguna. The team hired Uruguayan manager Gustavo Diaz and since then, Leon has 19 points from eight games, more than Xolos have all season. Los Panzas Verdes are coming off a dominant 6-2 win against Veracruz, a team that Xolos could not even score on.
Leon has an attractive and very offensive style of play under Diaz and is now one of the top title contenders in the league. The team is very well-balanced as the defense is solid with players like Andres Mosquera, Fernando Navarro, and Alexander Mejia in that defensive midfield role. The offense is the main attraction with players like Andres Andrade, Elias Hernandez, and the league’s top scorer, Mauro Boselli.
Players to Watch
It is still very unclear which players will feature in Diego Torres’ starting XI this Friday, but Gustavo Bou must be in the lineup for any chance of a favorable result. The Argentine striker has been Xolos’ best player this season and the team struggles massively when he fails to score. The 27-year-old is Club Tijuana’s top scorer with six goals and is only one of three players on the team that have more than a goal, with Miller Bolanos and Luis Angel Mendoza joining him. Bou has proven that he can be a very impactful player and the Xoloitzcuintles need someone like the South American striker that can carry the team to the three points from the game.
Hernandez has been having a breakout season and has proven to be one of the best, if not the best Mexican-born player in the Liga MX this season. The 28-year-old has six goals and seven assists and is seemingly always involved whenever Leon is on the attack. Mauro Boselli has eleven goals this season, but it wouldn’t be for Hernandez’s incredible crossing ability and link-up play. The Mexican winger is clearly the difference maker on Gustavo Diaz’s team and Damian Perez will need to be in top form in this game to keep him in check on that left flank.
Leon is the clear favorite heading into this game, which is very rare for a visiting team at the Estadio Caliente. The off-the-field issues are far too complicated to ignore at this point and the team is clearly suffering from severe internal problems as a result. The players should not let that affect them, but it does make a significant impact, especially considering the momentum Leon will go into this game with. The match should still be one of the best this weekend in the Liga MX, not to mention the rivalry both teams have built over the years. The two teams have had intense games back to the Ascenso days that the interim manager Diego Torres was a part of as a player.
The game should be especially important to Torres considering this and the security of his limited job as the interim. Both teams should give an immense fight, but it is very hard to imagine that the Xolos will come out with a win. The prediction for the game is a 2-1 win for Leon that ends any hopes of the playoffs for the Xolos, but it could easily go either way.