Tijuana Xolos Liga MX Playoffs Preview: Xolos Must Play a Flawless Game at Home

Credit: Xolos

Credit: Xolos

Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Monarcas Morelia

When: Sunday, May 14, 2017

Where: Estadio Caliente

Time: 6:00 P.M. PST

TV: Azteca America

 

This Sunday, May 14, the Tijuana Xolos will play the second leg of the Liga MX quarterfinals matchup against Monarcas Morelia. The border city side lost the first leg of the matchup 1-0 away from home and will now need to play a flawless game at home to advance to the semifinals. The first leg of this series was not anything spectacular. Hopefully, this game can be a lot different than that encounter.

The Xolos

The Xolos did lose the first leg of this series 1-0 away from home. The Aztec Canines played with a very young defense with 18-year-old Carlos Vargas and 21-year-old Hiram Munoz comprising the back line. The goalkeeper, Gibran Lajud, is also young at only 23 years old. The inexperience of these players was very evident in the first leg, the defense looking quite fragile at times. A vital error by Gibran Lajud was the cause of Morelia’s lone goal that gives the away team the advantage heading into this game. The attack in the first leg was also very unimpressive, with Aviles Hurtado being the only bright spot on the team.The Colombian forward did have some good opportunities, but he could not break the rigid back line of Monarcas Morelia on his own. Hurtado had seemingly no support in that game and the attack will need to be clinical and sharp in this vital second leg game.

The Xolos just need to win by the minimal score line of 1-0 in this game to advance to the semifinals. If the away team can score a goal, things become much more complicated for Miguel Herrera’s side. The Xolos will need to beat Monarcas Morelia by a two-goal margin if the away team does score. Defending will be just as vital as attacking in this encounter for the Xolos, so it will be intriguing to see what lineup and what tactics Miguel Herrera does decide to use. The border city side is still the favorite to advance with a much stronger team and the home-field advantage in this second leg. The game will not be easy for the Xolos with the immense pressure the team has to advance to the semifinals, but it should be a game that the home team can easily win.

Monarcas Morelia

La Monarquia had a solid game in the first leg of this series, defeating the Aztec Canines 1-0 at home. Monarcas Morelia did not look overly dominant in the game but did deserve the victory as the Xolos were not doing anything to try and get a favorable result. Even if Morelia is not the favorite in this matchup, the team from Michoacán does have the advantage on the scoreboard going into this encounter.

Roberto Hernandez has the edge tactically as he can force Miguel Herrera to play a certain way depending on how he aligns his team. Hernandez can opt to play attacking and look for that goal that will force the Xolos to completely disregard their defense. The Mexican manager can also play defensively to try and hold his lead and look for a counter attack with the pacey wingers Morelia does have like Jefferson Cuero. In the first leg, the midfield was impressive for Morelia, with Aldo Rocha and Rodrigo Millar outplaying Joe Corona and Guido Rodriguez. Rodriguez especially will need to step up his game in this second leg to deal with the veteran, Millar, who can prove to be a menace in the midfield. Of course, Roberto Hernandez will be without his best player, Raul Ruidiaz who suffered a knee injury in the first leg of the series. Without his best attacker, Hernandez might be forced to use other tactics which could make the game interesting. It will be intriguing to see how Roberto Hernandez decides to counter “Piojo” in this encounter.

Players to Watch

Miguel Angel Sansores

Sansores scored the lone goal in the first leg of the quarter-final matchup between the two teams. The 26-year-old striker also scored against Club Tijuana at the Estadio Caliente in the quarterfinals of the Copa MX. Sansores will be the main offensive option for Monarcas Morelia in this game with Raul Ruidiaz out due to injury. If Morelia does get on the score sheet, expect Sansores to make an impact in this game.

Paul Arriola

The Chula Vista native had a very solid performance in the first leg, playing the entire 90 minutes of the game. Arriola helped both offensively and defensively and had a couple of opportunities linking up with Joe Corona. The American did seem motivated in the game to make an impact, but just needed to produce a bit more in the game. Aviles Hurtado will need some support in this game going forward and Paul Arriola could be that support that the Colombian does need. Arriola can also drop down to the defense if Miguel Herrera needs him to solidify the back line at some point in the game. Arriola had never played in the playoffs before and will be motivated to make an impact in his first Liguilla with Club Tijuana.

The Verdict

The game will hopefully be more exciting than the first leg of this series. Maybe it will not be much of a spectacle, but the tactical aspect of the game by both managers should be enticing to watch. The Xolos may decide to play it safe to get that 1-0 result, while Morelia does not have anything to lose in this game. The border city side does have the pressure to perform, while Morelia might take risks because it can afford to. The match is set to be an exciting duel, but might not be a high-scoring one because of the circumstances. The prediction for the game is a narrow 1-0 win for the Xolos with a goal by Aviles Hurtado that gets the Aztec Canines to the semifinals. 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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