Game: Tijuana Xolos vs Leon
When: Sunday, Aug. 5, 2018
Where: Estadio Caliente, Tijuana, Mexico
Time: 6:06 P.M. PST
TV: FS1, Fox Sports San Diego, Fox Sports Arizona, Fox Sports Prime Ticket, Fox Deportes
The Tijuana Xolos will play their third game in the Liga MX 2018 Apertura this Sunday, Aug. 5, at the Estadio Caliente when the border city side host archivals Leon.
Most rivalries in soccer are based on geography or a constant battle for success. This rivalry is a bit different as it came to life in Mexico’s second division and has stayed alive over the years because both teams have faced off in crucial games. The Xolos defeated Leon in the playoffs in their path to the first division, and also on their road to their first title in the 2012 Apertura tournament.
The Border City Dogs are the favorites in this matchup because of their recent form and because they will counter with the home-field advantage. Club Tijuana lost to Tigres UANL 1-0 last week, but did defeat Chivas de Guadalajara 2-1 in the season-opener at the Estadio Caliente. Miller Bolanos will also be available to play in this match after serving a suspension, and manager Diego Cocca has already said that the Ecuadorian forward will start.
The attack should be very interesting with Bolanos, Juan Martin Lucero, and Eryc Castillo or Jesus Angulo. The defense is already taking shape nicely and has been a strength for Diego Cocca so far. Diego Rodriguez and Luis Chavez have also formed a solid partnership in the midfield. The team has looked solid and will need to use its home-field advantage at the Mictlan throughout the season to ensure success.
Leon has been one of the worst teams in the 2018 Apertura so far as the team has yet to score or win after the first two games. In Los Esmeraldas’ defense, they have played two of the best teams in the Liga MX in Tigres UANL and Monterrey. Still, the team has not looked promising in the slightest with an inconsistent backline and an uninspiring attack. Leon lost Elias Hernandez, its main playmaker, in the offseason, and have clearly missed that spark going forward. Manager Gustavo Diaz has also yet to find a style of play that really suits his team, and that has led to these poor showings.
Los Panzas Verdes do have some very intriguing players, like Mauro Boselli, Luis Montes, and Alexander Mejia, but the core has failed to work together. Leon will also not counter with Fernando Navarro or Pedro Aquino in this match as both players picked up red cards in their last game against Monterrey. This will severely hurt the defense and midfield and could make a significant impact on the encounter.
Confirmed Xolos’ Starting Lineup: Gibran Lajud, Omar Mendoza, Julian Velazquez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela, Luis Fuentes, Diego Rodriguez, Luis Chavez, Ignacio Rivero, Miller Bolanos, Erick Torres, Juan Martin Lucero
Les confirmo la alineación de @Xolos , sientan a la culebra 🐍 Eryc Castillo.
— Saidgol (@Saidgol) August 5, 2018
The starting lineup has been confirmed by Periodico Frontera reporter Said Rodriguez. The defense seems to be set in stone while the midfield will now feature Miller Bolanos in that left-wing role. The strike partnership of Juan Martin Lucero and Erick Torres will make a comeback after Torres was on the bench last week.
Players to Watch
Miller Bolanos was the Xolos’ top scorer last season with five goals and will be playing his first game this season after serving a suspension. As mentioned before, Diego Cocca has said that Bolanos will start this game, and this could help the offense to create more scoring opportunities. The Ecuadorian forward is very skillful, pretty quick, and does also have a decent shot on him.
There is no question about it; Leon’s best player is easily team captain Mauro Boselli, who has been one of the most prominent scorers in the Liga MX over the past few years. The Argentine striker has over 100 goals with La Fiera and still has the capabilities to be an impactful player. Boselli is not the most skillful player, but he is a natural goalscorer and can be extremely dangerous in the air and inside of the penalty box.
Club Tijuana should be able to win this game, especially with the massive home-field advantage at the Estadio Caliente. The Xolos also have a better team than Leon and are in better form, which does make them the favorites. EVT predicts a 2-1 win for the Xoloitzcuintles in a game that should be very hard-fought and intense at the Mictlan.