The first leg of the Liga MX 2018 Apertura final will be played this Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018, as Club America and Cruz Azul dispute the title in Mexico’s top-tier league. Both teams are among the best this season, among the most popular in Mexico, and also carry plenty of former Tijuana Xolos’ players. Las Aguilas and Los Cementeros have a total of nine ex-Xoloitzcuintles between them and Club America even has former Xolos’ manager Miguel Herrera as well. Here are the nine former Club Tijuana players that could play in this 2018 Apertura Liga MX final:
Vargas is the only ex-Xolo that is guaranteed to miss out on the final as the Club America defender is still carrying an injury from late November. The 19-year-old was debuted by Miguel Herrera at Club Tijuana in 2017 and he has really found his stride with Las Aguilas as he was once a consistent starter for the team and regularly features in youth tournaments for the Mexico national team.
Speaking of players that have found their stride at Club America, Aguilera is having his best-ever season in Mexico. The Argentine centre-back scored three goals during the regular season and now has two goals in the playoffs, making him one of the best offensive defenders in the Liga MX this season. Aguilera has also been a crucial player in “Piojo” Herrera’s backline and is set to play an important role in the final against Cruz Azul.
The Argentine midfielder was arguably Club Tijuana’s best player when the team achieved back-to-back first place finishes with Miguel Herrera, and now Rodriguez is arguably Club America’s best player. Rodriguez scored four goals in the regular season and has one in the playoffs as he is vital for Las Aguilas in all aspects of the game.
The San Diego native was a fan-favorite with Xolos’ fans but has received very limited play this season with Club America. However, Corona did get the start in Las Aguilas‘ last game where Miguel Herrera’s team defeated Pumas UNAM 6-1 to reach the final.
Martin is definitely more of a role player these days, but is still an important player at Club America as he has even received attention by the Mexico national team. The 26-year-old striker resurrected his career with Los Azulcremas and is definitely the type of player that can score an important goal off the bench.
The Xolos’ backline still misses Pablo Aguilar as he remained consistent this season to help Cruz Azul have the best defense of the tournament. Los Celestes only conceded 13 goals in the regular season, which was the best mark in the league, and now Aguilar’s abilities and leadership should play a role in the final.
Salas started off with Club Tijuana’s affiliate team, Dorados de Sinaloa, then went on to play for the Xolos for a couple of Liga MX tournaments. The 25-year-old midfielder has not been a consistent starter for Cruz Azul this season, but has been an extremely important role player. Salas starts for Pedro Caixinha when he needs a more defensive option in the midfield and also comes off the bench when a game needs to be locked down.
The Mexicali native was a Xolos’ youth product and has been a fairly consistent starter for Pedro Caixinha this season. Like Salas, depending on the situation, Maduena will get the nod, but he has proven to be a very good signing for La Maquina as he has played an important role in the backline.
Caraglio has scored seven goals in all competitions this season and recently scored the deciding goal against Monterrey in the semifinals that earned Cruz Azul’s spot in this final. The Argentine striker has also contributed in other aspects of the game with his imposing physical presence and is definitely a player that Club Tijuana could have used this season.