Game: Pumas UNAM vs. Tijuana Xolos
Where: Estadio Olimpico Universitario, Mexico City
When: Sunday, April 14, 2019
Time: 10:00 A.M. PST
TV: Univision, Univision Deportes, ESPN Deportes
The Liga MX 2019 Clausura tournament is down to its last four games of the regular season as the Tijuana Xolos visit Pumas UNAM in Week 14 of the competition. The game is set to be a noon kickoff time in Mexico City at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario, which is always a tough place to visit.
The scorching heat of the sun at noon in Mexico City can be tough to handle, and Club Tijuana will be due for a tough challenge. The Xoloitzcuintles are coming off one of their best results of the season as the Border City Dogs defeated Club America 3-2 at the Estadio Caliente.
The Xolos were the heavy underdogs in that match but prevailed with goals by Miller Bolanos, Gustavo Bou, and Ariel Nahuelpan. There was a lot of controversy surrounding the match due to the use of VAR and refereeing decisions, but overall the Aztec Canines did deserve the three points.
With the season winding down, the Prehistoric Dogs currently sit in eighth place with 22 points but can finish as high as third place with a victory in this match. Worst case scenario, if the Xolos were to lose this game, they will still be in eighth place.
Manager Oscar Pareja also has to worry about the Liga MX youth minutes rule as the Xolos still need to give 518 minutes to players born in 1997 or after this season. The Colombian manager may be forced to use some youth players like fullback Luis Martinez or attacking midfielder Antonio Nava in this match.
Club Tijuana has struggled heavily on the road this season, with five losses, one draw and just one win away from home. The Xoloitzcuintles have been shutout in four road games in this tournament, and that is worrying heading into this match considering how tough it can be to play at the Olimpico Universitario.
Pumas UNAM has struggled this season, currently in 15th place with 13 points, already out of the playoff race. Los Auriazules are coming off a 2-0 loss to Tigres UANL and have only won one of their last six games in league play.
Manager Bruno Marioni took charge in Week 5 but has not been able to make a significant impact. The Argentine manager has even sparked controversy as he was involved in a physical altercation with a fan in Juarez.
Marioni is on the hot seat and simply cannot afford to lose any games, especially not at home. Pumas has some talented players like former Xolos’ midfielder Ignacio Malcorra and Paraguayan striker Carlos Gonzalez. However, the Mexico City team has been plagued with inconsistency all season in all aspects of play.
Players to Watch
Malcorra played with the Tijuana Xolos for four seasons and was a key playmaker for the Aztec Canines in this time. The Argentine midfielder is a very hardworking player that also has flair and vision that make him very dangerous going forward. Malcorra also excels at set pieces and on his day can be a menace to any backline in the league.
Nahuelpan scored against Club America last week and had an incredible performance against Las Aguilas. The Argentine target man has changed the dynamic of the Xolos’ attack since joining the team with his immense physical presence that can be very difficult to contain.
EVT predicts a 1-1 draw, this will be a very hard-fought game, and the Xolos may struggle due to the conditions at the Estadio Olimpico Universitario.