Tijuana Xolos Liga MX CL18 Week 2 Preview: Must-Win Home-Opener Against Necaxa

Credit: LIGA MX

Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Necaxa

When: Friday, January 12, 2018

Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico

Time: 7:00 P.M. PST

TV: Univision Deportes

This Friday, the Tijuana Xolos will play their first home game of the Liga MX Clausura 2018 campaign.

The border city dogs are coming off a disappointing scoreless draw to open the season against Cruz Azul away from home.

The result itself is a beneficial one for Diego Cocca and Club Tijuana, but the product on the pitch was very poor. The Aztec Canines maintained order in the defense, but struggled to create much of anything going forward. The two clearest chances of the day for Cocca’s side in that game fell to American defender Michael Orozco, but goalkeeper Gibran Lajud emerged as the hero in the match with a pair of crucial saves. Pablo Aguilar was also outstanding in the season opener with 14 clearances in the game along with Juan Carlos Valenzuela. Along with the solid performances, there were also some disappointing ones, like the cases of Juan Manuel Iturbe and the attack in general. Cocca must be much more aggressive in this match in front of the home crowd and facing an uninspiring Necaxa side.

Necaxa is coming from a disappointing result in week 1 as well as Los Rayos had a scoreless draw against Veracruz to start off the season.

The team from Aguascalientes has been a pragmatic, defensive side for a few tournaments now and will rely on its defense and goalkeeper to get a good result. The Xolos will need to be careful with counter attacks in this match as that will be Ignacio Ambriz’s best bet to score at the Estadio Caliente. Chilean defender Igor Lichnovsky may miss this encounter due to an ankle injury, which could prove to be a big blow to Ambriz’s side. Necaxa will likely need to play Mario de Luna, who stands in at 5-foot-10, and Ventura Alvarado, who stands in at 5-foot-11, in the centre-back positions. The Xolos will need to exploit this the best they can on set-pieces with players like Pablo Aguilar, Damian Musto, and Juan Lucero, who are lethal in the air.

Confirmed Xolos’ Lineup

Diego Cocca’s lineup for Xolos’ first home game of the season was confirmed by the always reliable Said Rodriguez. The formation will be a 4-4-2 with Gibran Lajud in net and Michael Orozco, Pablo Aguilar, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, and Damian Perez in the defense. The midfield will consist of Damian Musto and Luis Chavez down the middle and Juan Iturbe and Ignacio Malcorra on the wings. The strike partnership is promising with two real goalscorers in Juan Lucero and Gustavo Bou. The only alteration from the previous game against Cruz Azul is Gustavo Bou replacing Miler Bolanos.

Players to Watch

Marcelo Barovero

Necaxa’s goalkeeper has been one of the most consistent ones in the Liga MX over the past few seasons. “El Trapito” had an amazing performance against Club Tijuana at the Estadio Caliente last year in the Clausura 2017 and should be the x-factor Ignacio Ambriz will be banking on.

Juan Lucero

If Igor Lichnovsky does miss this match, it could be Juan Lucero’s opportunity to shine against a fragile back line. The Argentine striker is particularly good in the air and could benefit from crosses into the area against Mario De Luna and Ventura Alvarado. “El Gato” should be looking to shine as his starring role is not guaranteed with Miller Bolanos also on the squad.

Prediction

The prediction for this match is a slim 1-0 win for Club Tijuana with Marcelo Barovero impeding the scoreline from getting out of hand. Club Tijuana does have a much better squad than Necaxa and should be able to win this match, especially in front of the home crowd. All the factors indicate that this is one of several must-win games at the Mictlan in order to reach the playoffs.

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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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