The Tijuana Xolos played their 14th match in the Liga MX Apertura 2017 on Friday, taking on Atlas away from home at the historic Estadio Jalisco.
Going into the match, both teams were in dire need of the three points as the regular season is winding down and the top eight settles down to the last few places. Club Tijuana did seem to be the favorite to take the three points on Friday night as the team was coming off a positive 2-1 win against Lobos BUAP and Atlas was going to be missing some key players. The team from Guadalajara was going to be missing Matias Alustiza, who had five goals in this tournament, and ex-Xolo and current right-back, Jose Madueña.
Eduardo Coudet went with his now trusty 5-3-2 formation with undeniable starter Gibran Lajud in net. Matias Aguirregaray, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Alejandro Donatti, Emanuel Aguilera, and Damian Perez made up the back five. Damian Musto, Ignacio Malcorra, and Luis Chavez comprised the midfield, with the strike force of Miller Bolaños and Gustavo Bou. There were a couple changes from the lineup that was used against Lobos BUAP as Matias Aguirregaray and Damian Musto found their way back into the starting XI after not being available to play for different reasons last Tuesday. The lineup was a very formidable one that should have been able to come away with the three points from this match.
The game started with a very high tempo as both teams seemed to come out of the gate very aggressive and pushed for that first goal. The clearest chance of the game for the Aztec Canines fell in the seventh minute as Gustavo Bou somehow missed an opportunity right in front of Atlas’ net. It was hard to comprehend how Bou’s shot wasn’t even on target and sailed way past the net. Atlas looked like the team that was more likely to score throughout the first half and even had two goals that were disallowed because of offside calls. The clearest chance for Los Zorros fell in the 43rd minute of the game as Ravel Morrison smashed a free-kick that found the crossbar of Gibran Lajud’s net.
The first half was dismal for the Xolos as there was even an altercation between Matias Aguirregaray and Damian Musto that could have easily gotten out of hand. It was even reported by TV Azteca’s on-field reporter Gerardo Melin that the two kept on verbally fighting heading into the locker room at halftime. The first half ended without any goals and Eduardo Coudet showed frustration and resorted to using some of the same tactics that were seen in the disappointing scoreless draw against Veracruz. At the half, the Argentine manager brought on Juan Manuel Iturbe for Luis Chavez and was clearly desperately seeking that first goal.
In the 62nd minute, the game took a turn for the worse for the Prehistoric Dogs as a penalty was called for Atlas after Emanuel Aguilera knocked down Stiven Barreiro. The call was controversially called by referee Fernando Guerrero. There did not seem to be excessive force by Aguilera, but the penalty was called. Former Xolos’ striker, Milton Caraglio, perfectly took the penalty to give Los Rojinegros a slim 1-0 lead. Coudet’s frustration seemed to grow as the game went on, and in the 69th minute he made his final substitution of the game, bringing on Henry Martin for Matias Aguirregaray. “Chacho” was giving it his all to try to get that equalizer, but his tactics were ineffective. Gustavo Bou was pushed more to a left-midfielder/left-winger role that clearly does not bring the best out of him. Another very clear chance for the Xoloitzcuintles came in the 75th minute. Damian Musto missed an opportunity in front of Atlas’ net as his shot was blocked by defender, Daniel Arreola.
The final minutes of the game were very reminiscent of the hopeless urgency that was seen in the game against Veracruz. Coudet pushed all his men forward, even using centre-back Alejandro Donatti as a striker. Another scoring chance came in the 90th minute as Henry Martin made a beautiful pass towards Gustavo Bou that was intercepted by Atlas’ goalkeeper Oscar Ustari. Gibran Lajud tried his best to keep the Xolos in the game in the dying minutes of the match, saving two very clear shots by the opposition. This included a one-on-one play against Brayan Garnica and very potent shot by Milton Caraglio. The team tried to repay its goalkeeper for his efforts, but failed as Fernando Guerrero blew the final whistle that ensured the 1-0 defeat for the border city side. The game was very disappointing, leaving Club Tijuana in 10th place with 18 points and propelling Atlas to eighth place with 19 points. (At the time of writing). The Xolos and Eduardo Coudet will need to hope that Necaxa and Cruz Azul cannot get favorable results this weekend and look ahead to the three remaining games in the tournament.