Tijuana Xolos Liga MX CL 18 Week 7 Preview: Xolos Take On Pachuca With Key Absences

Credit: Xolos

Game: Pachuca vs Tijuana Xolos

When: Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018

Where: Estadio Hidalgo, Pachuca, Mexico

Time: 7:06 P.M. PST

TV: ESPN Deportes, Galavision

The Tijuana Xolos will play their seventh game in the Liga MX Clausura 2018 this Wednesday as the border city side will take on Pachuca away from home.

The game is set to be a tough match as Club Tijuana will have a couple of key absences for this game. The Xolos are coming off a rough 2-0 loss against Queretaro at home. That game turned out to be a complete disaster for the border city side as club captain Pablo Aguilar came away with a red card from the encounter. Aguilar will not be available for this match, along with Damian Musto, who picked up his fifth yellow card of the season in that horrendous defeat as well. Miller Bolanos also picked up a red card in that loss to Los Gallos Blancos, but his absence should not be much of a worry as he has failed to be an impactful player in this tournament. Aguilar and Musto will be a huge blow to the defense that had not allowed a goal up until that game against Queretaro.

There really is not a backup defensive midfielder on the team to take Musto’s place, and this could prove to be the Xolos’ downfall in this game. Diego Cocca said in his press conference on Tuesday that Jesus Chavez will be replacing Pablo Aguilar in his starting lineup. Chavez is an experienced and physical defender, but is very slow and definitely a downgrade to Pablo Aguilar. Diego Cocca will also have to worry about his dormant offense that is off to a historically bad start. The Xoloitzcuintles are off to their worst offensive start ever with just three goals from their first six games. Gustavo Bou only has one goal so far and will need to find a way to generate a spark like he did in the Apertura 2017. The Aztec Canines have yet to score away from home with three 0-0 results away from the Estadio Caliente, and this could be another game where Diego Cocca takes a very conservative approach.

Pachuca is a team that is very similar to Club Tijuana this season as it is very unclear if the team will be competitive and make the playoffs.

Los Tuzos are coming off a 1-0 win against Veracruz away from home, but had two consecutive defeats before that. Club captain Erick Gutierrez scored the lone goal in that encounter as manager Diego Alonso was ejected from the match and will not be on the sidelines for this clash. Pachuca has two wins, a draw, and three losses in this Clausura 2018, up to seven points on the season. Los Hidalguenses only wins in this competition have been against arguably the two weakest teams in the league, Veracruz and Lobos BUAP. Pachuca definitely has enough talent to be competitive, but it has failed to do so in the past two Liga MX tournaments. The whole team is solid as the defense is led by Oscar Murillo, the midfield by Erick Gutierrez, and the offense by Keisuke Honda. The weak point of Diego Alonso’s side is the goalkeeper, Alfonso Blanco, who has not proven to be very reliable, and the backup, 45-year-old Oscar Perez, is not much better. Los Tuzos will have the home-field advantage and will face a weakened Xolos’ side, which may result in a favorable result for them.

Players to Watch

Keisuke Honda

Honda is the quarterback of this Pachuca team as he controls the offense going forward from his offensive midfielder role. The Japan international also controls the corner kicks, free kicks, and everything in between, and is the difference maker on this Pachuca team. The 31-year-old has adapted well to the Liga MX and is easily one of the more talented players in Mexico’s top-flight league. Honda has three goals and four assists so far this season and will be looking to add to that tally against Club Tijuana.

Luis Chavez

It is still very unclear as to who will play in place of Damian Musto in that defensive midfield role. But regardless, Luis Chavez will have a huge responsibility in this game to provide more defensive coverage than usual. The Mexican midfielder has done this in certain games this season, but will really need to cover some ground without Musto on the field. Chavez is an exciting player as he is very talented going forward with a potent strike on him as well. The 22-year-old has been one of the more consistent players this season for Diego Cocca and will have to play a big role in Wednesday’s match.

Prediction

The Xolos are in for their toughest game of the season without Pablo Aguilar and Damian Musto up against a talented Pachuca team away from home. It is hard to imagine Club Tijuana coming away with a  favorable result from this clash and the prediction for the game is a 2-1 loss for the Border City Dogs. This type of result will be problematic for the club and definitely raise some questions about Diego Cocca.

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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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