The Liga MX Clausura 2018 regular season is over with, and now the playoffs will initiate this Wednesday. Club Tijuana made the “Liguilla” as the sixth seed, with 25 points, despite not getting any wins away from the Estadio Caliente and only scoring one goal in away games. The Xolos’ first task in the quarterfinals will be a tough one, Monterrey, led by former Tijuana coach, Antonio Mohamed.
Among the top eight teams that made the playoffs, the Xoloitzcuintles have the worst offense out of all the teams, and not just in numbers. The border city side only scored 18 goals this season, 17 of which were at home, and that mark was the fifth-worst in the Liga MX. Monarcas Morelia was the second-worst offense among playoff teams, with 22 goals.
The difference is only four goals, but Morelia also has Raul Ruidiaz, who scored nine goals this season and is clearly more potent than anybody on Tijuana’s current squad. Every other playoff team also has an x-factor on their squad, like Ruidiaz. Pumas UNAM has Nicolas Castillo, who scored 11 goals. Santos Laguna has the top scorer in the league, Djaniny Tavares, who scored 14 goals.
Other teams, like Tigres UANL, Toluca, Club America, and Monterrey, have several players in the attack that can be difference makers. Monterrey’s top scorer, Alfonso Gonzalez, only scored six goals, but the team as a whole was the best offensive team in the Liga MX with 30 goals.
The Xolos’ top scorer this season was Miller Bolanos, who only scored five goals, and all five came in his last eight games. Gustavo Bou had a disappointing season with just three goals in 12 games and was played out of position out on the left wing.
In contrast to the attack, the Xolos’ defense was powerful and immense during the Clausura 2018. Club Tijuana allowed a league-low 12 goals this semester and was also helped out by the performances of the goalkeeper, Gibran Lajud. The Mexican keeper and Tijuana’s defense had eight clean sheets this season, which was the best in the league.
Team captain Pablo Aguilar was a staple in the backline, averaging more than six clearances per game and giving his all in each encounter. Aguilar really created a sense of order in his role as the team captain and will be a key player in the playoffs for Diego Cocca.
The first round of the playoffs versus Monterrey could be very difficult for the border city team, but if the team is to succeed, the offense must step up and the defense just needs to stay consistent.