Game: Club de Fútbol Tigres de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Saturday, March 10th
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Universitario (San Nicolás de los Garza, N.L.)
Referees: REF: Adonai Escobedo Gonzalez, AR1: José Alfredo López Cruz, AR2: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, 4TH: Alejandro Funk Villafañe
All-time record: Tijuana has defeated Tigres three times, lost seven times, and the clubs have drawn five times in Liga MX play. Tigres have won the last three matches by a combined score of 5-0.
After a disastrous outing in the Concacaf Champions League, Club Tijuana (4W 4D 2L) heads to the historic El Volcán to face off against Tigres UANL (5W 3D 2L). Tijuana was defeated at home by the New York Red Bulls on Tuesday by a 2-0 score, thanks in part to a stellar performance by RBNY goalkeeper Luis Robles. On any other night against any other goalkeeper, the story would have been different.
Tijuana will need to focus on the moment though and not worry about the past or future matches against the Red Bulls. Xolos have started to break out of their offensive funk, finally getting into double-digits in goals scored thanks to a 3-1 win over Lobos BUAP (2W 2D 6L) last week at Estadio Caliente. They’re in for a challenge against Tigres, who have allowed just nine goals in ten matches.
Tijuana is waiting for some key offensive personnel to get healthy. Gustavo “Pantera” Bou has been out since getting injured in the February 17th match against Pumas. Juan Martín Lucero is also out injured, not seeing any action since the February 24th Concacaf Champions League Match against Motagua. Ignacio “Nacho” Malcorra is slowly making his return, coming on in stoppage time against New York on Tuesday. They’ll also be without Omar Mendoza, who picked up a one game suspension for getting his fifth yellow card against Lobos BUAP.
Tigres are also coming off a disappointing performance in the Concacaf Champions League, going down 2-1 to reigning Major League Soccer champions Toronto FC in Canada on Wednesday. Manager Tuca Ferretti however has told the Mexican press that his priority is winning Liga MX, which explains his mood after Wednesday’s match.
Tuca Ferretti in surprisingly jovial mood after @TigresOficial's loss. On @torontofc: Toronto is the @MLS champion. They deserve respect, as a collective and as individuals. It was a v difficult game. The only thing we didn’t plan for is for them to score two goals. #ligamxeng— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) March 8, 2018
Then again, it’s foolish to try and get into Ferretti’s head. He’s a master of mind games and Diego Cocca and the Xolos staff would be best served concentrating on what they know. Tigres will play a quick style of play relying on short passes and (usually) utilizing overlapping runs on the outside. Look for André-Pierre Gignac to get the ball on the left wing and cut back inside to unleash a right-footed shot back against the grain. Lucas Zeleráyan will look to get lost in the central midfield to somehow emerge with the ball to beat the onside trap either in alone on goal or with Enner Valencia or Jesús Dueñas close by.
That’s the beauty of Tigres - you know what they’re going to do to you, yet you’re powerless to stop it from happening because their execution is flawless. Xolos are capable of matching that with flawlessly executed defense, however it’ll be a tough ask in the atmosphere that is El Volcán.