Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club de Fútbol Lobos de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla
Date: Friday, March 2nd
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Referees: REF: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo, AR1: Andres Hernández Delgado, AR2: Juan Carlos Salinas Salinas, 4TH: Miguel Angel Flores Rodriguez
All-time record: The clubs have only met once in Liga MX, resulting in a 1-1 draw in the 2017 Apertura that was delayed when the stadium lights failed to come on. The clubs met in the Apertura 2016 Copa MX, resulting in a 4-0 win for Lobos in the first match and a 1-1 draw in the second match.
It was a good week for Club Tijuana (3W 4D 2L), shutting out Club América at Estadio Azteca on Saturday and drawing FC Motagua in CONCACAF Champions League play on Tuesday to advance to the CCL quarterfinals against the New York Red Bulls. They’ll look to build on that momentum as Lobos BUAP (2W 2D 5L) head to the frontera tonight.
Xolos were able to go through against Motagua using most of their regular starters, so it remains to be seen if Diego Cocca will look to use the rotated squad he used against América or if he’ll switch it up yet again. The only players to start both games were Gibran Lajud, Damián Pérez, Pablo Aguilar, Damián Musto, and Ignacio Rivero.
All of those players (except Rivero) are central figures to a Xolos defense that has allowed a league best five goals in nine games. Lajud and company have six clean sheets in nine games, which has earned Lajud a call up to the Mexico National Team and gained Tijuana a reputation for their strong defensive play.
Lobos BUAP is the polar opposite of Tijuana. Where Xolos play a pragmatic, defensively sound brand of soccer, manager Rafael Puente has Lobos playing a free wheeling, attack-minded version of the game. In their last outing against Veracruz (2W 3D 4L), Lobos scored five goals from five different players. Lobos’ 14 Liga MX goals this year is double that of Xolos, with Julian Quiñones (4), Gabriel Cortez (2), and Jerónimo Amione (2) outscoring Tijuana (7) on the season.
This mentality isn’t without its risks though, as Lobos BUAP has conceded a staggering 18 goals on the season. And while Tijuana has only scored seven goals thus far, they did explode for four against Pumas (4W 3D 2L). Xolos should be able to maintain their defensive dominance despite Lobos’ powerful offense. If it turns into a high-scoring shootout however it could favor Lobos.