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Match preview: Club Pachuca vs. Club Tijuana

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Xolos hit the road to face a Pachuca team who have been struggling lately.

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Pachuca v Tijuana - Copa MX Apertura 2017 Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Club de Fútbol Pachuca vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente

Date: Wednesday, February 14th

Time: 10:06 p.m. Eastern, 9:06 p.m. Central, 7:06 p.m. Pacific, 2:06 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Hidalgo (Pachuca, Hgo.)

Referees: REF: Diego Montaño Robles, AR1: Mario Jesús López Carrillo, AR2: Cesar Cerritos García, 4TH: Jesús Bisguerra Mendiola

Television: United States - ESPN Deportes, Galavision; Mexico - Imagen Televisión, Fox Sports 2 Cono Norte, Claro Sports

Radio: ESPN Deportes Radio

Streaming: Fanatiz, fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling (Free trial + monthly subscription), Univision NOW, Watch ESPN, ESPN Deportes+

All-time record: Tijuana holds the lead in the series, having defeated Pachuca five times and drawing five while only losing three in Liga MX play. They’ve only been shut out once - a 1-0 loss at Estadio Hidalgo back in the 2012 Clausura.

Tijuana v Pachuca - Clausura 2012
The last time Pachuca shut out Tijuana, Edy Brambila was still with Pachuca and Richard Ruiz was with Tijuana.
Photo by Marcos Delgado/Clasos.com/LatinContent/Getty Images

Tijuana (2W 3D 1L) heads to Estadio Hidalgo on the heels of a 2-0 loss to Querétaro FC (2W 1D 3L that saw the record shutout streak end at 516 minutes and both Miller Bolaños and captain Pablo Aguilar sent off due to red cards. While Bolanos presence will be missed off of the bench, Aguilar’s absence can’t be understated. A large reason for the shutout streak was Aguilar’s play and steady demeanor, and it will be up to Juan Carlos Valenzuela to pick up most of that mantle from Aguilar. The rest will fall to Jesús Chávez, as manager Diego Cocca indicated he would get the start over Michael Orozco and Hiram Muñoz in the midweek press conference. Orozco started the season at right back for Xolos before suffering an injury against Monterrey in Week 3 and while the future may lie with 22 year old Muñoz, the present lies with Chávez.

TOPSHOT-FBL-MEX-SANTOS-TIJUANA
Pablo Aguilar’s absence will be a huge blow for Club Tijuana, however it will give Jesús Chávez a chance to prove himself.
Photo credit should read OSCAR WONG/AFP/Getty Images

Tijuana will also be without Damián Musto, as the central defensive midfielder will sit out the match after accumulating five yellow cards during the Clausura. Alejandro Guido will most likely get the start for Musto, although Guido tends to play a little higher up the pitch.

Xolos offense will also need to step it up on the road, where they haven’t scored all year. Gustavo “Pantera” Bou and Juan Martín Lucero have combined for just two goals this season, which simply is not good enough for Tijuana to win games. Not having Bolaños will also hurt, but it might be time for Diego Cocca to start trying out some other options or consider bringing in someone who can augment the attack.

Pachuca (2W 1D 3L) hasn’t been playing as well as their record might indicate. Their two wins have come against Lobos BUAP (1W 1D 4L) and Veracruz (1W 2D 3L), however between those two wins were losses against Tigres (2W 2D 2L) and Monarcas Morelia (3W 1D 2L), both by 3-2 scorelines.

Pachuca has scored more goals in the Clausura (12) than any other team, which makes the matchup against a Xolos team without Pablo Aguilar all the more interesting. Keisuke Honda has been Tuzos’ best player so far this season, leading the club with three goals and co-leading the league with four assists this season (Club América’s Renato Ibarra also has four). Angelo Sagal and Franco Jara have also contributed two goals each as well.

Tigres UANL v Pachuca - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX
Keisuke Honda has been lethal for Pachuca this season, with three goals and four assists in six games.
Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

As good as Pachuca has been offensively, they’ve been as poor defensively though, giving up 12 goals on the season. To compound this, they will be without manager Diego Alonso, who was sent off during the last match against Veracruz for “Signing, gestures or attitudes that imply an obscene and injurious behavior for the public, Players and members of the Technical Bodies.” This might be just the perfect opportunity for Tijuana to break out of their scoring funk, although that may run counter to Diego Cocca’s defensive mentality.