Tijuana Xolos Week 16 Preview: Xolos Take On Powerhouse, Tigres UANL Away From Home

Credit: Tijuana Xolos

Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Tigres UANL

When: Saturday, April 29, 2017

Where: Estadio Universitario

Time: 5:00 P.M. PST

TV: Univision Deportes

 

The Liga MX Clausura 2017 is coming down to its final couple of weeks of regular season play.

This will be the penultimate game of the Xolos’ Liga MX campaign. The Aztec Canines will travel to Monterrey to take on Tigres UANL at the Estadio Universitario this Saturday, April 29. The match should be a thrilling encounter between two of the best teams in the Liga MX, and between two of the most colorful managers in the league as well.

The Xolos

The Xolos are coming off a huge 2-0 victory against Toluca at the Estadio Caliente last Friday. The win made the border city side the top team in the Liga MX, currently in first place with 28 points. Monterrey kicked off this week 16 against Veracruz last Friday and lost 1-0, which has kept Club Tijuana in first place momentarily. Miguel Herrera’s men have won three consecutive games and have only given up one goal in this nice run of form. Miguel Herrera will be back on the sidelines for this game, and even though the Xolos have already clinched a playoff berth, “El Piojo” will want the three points from this game.

The Aztec Canines have not lost in six consecutive games now and will look to keep that going in this encounter. Miguel Herrera will have some notable players missing from his starting 11, which may make the game more complicated than it already is. Emmanuel Aguilera is, of course, out for the season, while the current situation of American defender, Michael Orozco, is unclear. Other notable absences for this duel will be the Argentines, Damian Perez and Milton Caraglio. The absence of Caraglio may not be a huge blow in the game with the clinical Juan Martin Lucero on the bench. The absence of Damian Perez, however, could prove to be a huge blow for Club Tijuana.

The inexperienced back line for Miguel Herrera has succeeded in previous weeks and will look to continue that form. Veteran, Juan Carlos Nunez, will likely take Perez’s place, but Nunez has proven to be a defensive liability at times, showing his age. The youngsters, Carlos Vargas and Hiram Munoz, have done an outstanding job covering the back line with all the recent injuries. The captain, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, will, of course, have a lot of responsibility in this encounter to lead the defense. The key will be the defense coming up against one of the best offenses on the continent. The game should be a great test for the Xolos and they will face a very strong side with a lot of motivation to win this game.

Tigres UANL

Tigres UANL has emerged as one of the best teams in North and South America in recent years. The team from Monterrey was not always considered a big team, but the recent influx of very talented players has made them a force in the Liga MX.  The Felines have five Liga MX titles, three of those titles coming from 2011 on. The ‘Regios’ are the current champions of the Liga MX, having beaten Club America in the final of the Apertura 2016 competition. Tigres also count with one of the most “colorful” managers in the Liga MX that even tops Miguel Herrera at times– that man, of course, being Ricardo “El Tuca” Ferretti. The Brazilian manager has led Tigres UANL to those three titles and will look to add another in this tournament. But before they can think of the title, the Felines must get to the playoffs first. The team from Monterrey had a rocky start to the Clausura 2017 competition and are currently in 10th place with 19 points. These last two games for Ricardo Ferretti and company are must-win games if they wish to make the playoffs.

Ricardo Ferretti does count with an imposing attack with players like the French striker, Andre-Pierre Gignac, and the Chilean Striker, Eduardo Vargas. But Tigres’ defense is actually the best in the league, having only surrendered 11 goals in this tournament. Despite what their place on the table might say, Tigres UANL is a powerhouse and is a team that the Xolos want to keep out of the playoffs. The encounter is of enormous magnitude for the Felines, having lost the final of the CONCACAF Champions League and having the pressure of making the playoffs in the Liga MX.

Players To Watch

Credit: LIGA MX

Juan Martin Lucero

With the absence of Milton Caraglio, Juan Martin Lucero should be in the starting 11 for this match. Lucero has been excellent in the few minutes he has played in this Clausura 2017. The Argentine has scored four goals in just 349 minutes of play. To put it in perspective, Milton Caraglio has scored five goals in 1195 minutes of play. Lucero is tall and offers good aerial ability like Caraglio, but he is much quicker and is more mobile on the sphere. It should be interesting to see how Lucero will fare against a rigid Tigres’ defense in this game.

Andre-Pierre Gignac

Andre-Pierre Gignac might just be the answer to who is the best player in the Liga MX. The French striker came to Mexico in the Apertura 2015 tournament, being a rare European signing for a Liga MX club. Gignac has been an imposing force in the Liga MX since then, scoring 34 goals in league play, including five goals this tournament. The French forward is really a world-class talent in this league, being a player that can dismantle any defense. The ex-Marseille player will be one to look out for in this game, especially with the dismantled defense that the Xolos currently have.

Guido Pizarro

Tigres UANL does have the only other player in the Liga MX that is even remotely similar to Guido Rodriguez. Oddly enough, he is also Argentine and shares the same first name as the Xolos’ midfielder. Guido Pizarro just might be Ricardo Ferretti’s most valuable player as he is a powerhouse in midfield that impacts every game he plays in. Pizarro is a lot more defensive than offensive, but like Guido Rodriguez, also pushes forward at times. The Argentine also has a strong physical presence and leaves his soul on the pitch after every game. The clash between the two Guido’s should be one of the more intriguing things to look out for in this game.

The Verdict

The game should be one of the best this weekend with both teams looking to get the three points from the encounter. While Tigres UANL is looking to reach the playoffs, the biggest benefit from the victory for the Xolos will be keeping Tigres UANL out of the playoffs. Both teams have offenses that are capable of scoring plenty of goals and an intense duel is expected. Unfortunately, the prediction for this match is a 2-1 victory for Tigres UANL. The Felines have one of the best rosters on the continent and it is hard to imagine that they will not reach the playoffs. Hopefully, the Xolos can prove me wrong and get the upset away from home. Fuerza Tijuas!

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Francisco Velasco
Francisco, 21, Chula Vista area, Journalism student at Southwestern College. I have been a Padres fan all my life, did most of the series previews and recaps in the Padres' 2016 season for EVT. Now I focus more on the Tijuana Xolos soccer team, get press passes for every home game and write consistently about the team for EVT.

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