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Monarcas Morelia Vs. Club Tijuana, 2012 Clausura: Preview, Both Sides Seeking a Strong Star

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Pablo Barrera of Mexico and Edgar Castillo of the United States go in for a challenge while playing for their national teams. Castillo is a recent acquisition of Club Tijuana.
Pablo Barrera of Mexico and Edgar Castillo of the United States go in for a challenge while playing for their national teams. Castillo is a recent acquisition of Club Tijuana.

The opening match in the 2012 Clausura tournament on Friday features Monarcas Morelia against Club Tijuana (9 pm ET, Azteca). Morelia has been playing consistently well the past couple of tournaments, will be looking to make it back to the Liguilla final as they did in the 2011 Clausura, and actually take the title this time around. Meanwhile, Club Tijuana are trying to find firm footing in the first division so that their campaign to become a fixture in the regional sports scene can be realized.

Morelia has entered a phase of relative stability, and with key players like Rafael Marquez Lugo and Miguel Sabah returning, they have to feel like if they can concentrate, they can compete for the title this season. If they miss the playoffs altogether, they have to feel they have really wasted an opportunity. Hosting the Xolos at home, Morelia will have the advantage of having an experienced squad that can probably catch the visitors on their heels if they get a lead. The issue for Morelia at times during the Apertura was that their defense could be shaky, and they were involved in wild matches where momentum would swing dramatically as they furiously tried to get back into the match, or as they relaxed to the point of letting their opponent back in. Although the Xolos were capable of scoring in the Apertura, their frailty was on the defensive end, and Morelia will probably like their chances to start the campaign.

Tijuana has made major changes between the tournaments, and by picking up defenders Edgar Castillo and Greg Garza, they look to be addressing defensive concerns as well as building an American contingent at the club to go along with Joe Corona. There may yet be movement in the club during this open transfer window, but Tijuana seemed capable of surprising some people in the Apertura with some good talent on the squad. But the results were not there, and they will try to make sure they avoid relegation at the end of the season. The team will need to have time to gel as a unit, but coming against Morelia in the opening fixture represents something of a tall task. Still, Tijuana should have their sea legs under them a bit better this time around, and if they can tighten their defense and keep pace with Morelia in scoring, a draw or even victory are not out of the question for Xolos.

Notable absences: Tijuana forward Dayro Moreno was in a car accident in Colombia, and will not feature in this match. Morelia defender Joel Huiqui will not play, either.