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2018 Clausura Liguilla preview: Club Tijuana vs. Monterrey

Xolos return to the playoffs, matching up against high-scoring Rayados.

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Tijuana v Puebla - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX Photo by David Garrido/Getty Images

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

Date: Wednesday, April 2nd

Time: 10:30 p.m. Eastern, 9:30 p.m. Central, 7:30 p.m. Pacific, 2:30 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)

Television: United States - Univision Deportes Network; Mexico - Azteca 7

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

All-time record: Monterrey leads the all-time regular season series with six wins to Tijuana’s three, while the clubs have drawn five times. The teams have met twice in the playoffs. Rayados won the initial meeting in the 2012 Clausura on a 4-3 aggregate, while Xolos got their revenge in the 2012 Apertura on a 2-1 aggregate on their way to their only Liga MX title.

Monterrey v Leon - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX
Avilés Hurtado spent two seasons with Tijuana before going to Monterrey in May of 2017.
Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Going in to the final week of the 2018 Clausura regular season, Club Tijuana (6W 7D 4L) needed a win against league leaders Toluca (11W 3D 3L) in order to be guaranteed a spot in the Liguilla. They delivered, thanks to Gustavo “Pantera” Bou’s third goal of the season in the 33rd minute and the defense’s league-leading eighth shutout.

Xolos’ hallmark this season has been their defense, allowing a league low twelve goals. Manager Diego Cocca’s style is much different than that of his predecessors, however it’s working and he’s admittedly happy with the results. “I am happy to be at Club Tijuana,” Cocca said in the press conference after the win against Toluca, adding that he was “proud of the group we have.”

Tijuana v Puebla - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX
Diego Cocca has managed the team back to the Liguilla after Tijuana missed the playoffs during the Apertura.
Photo by David Garrido/Getty Images

While Xolos practice pragmatism and defense, Monterrey (8W 5D 4L) is an offensive juggernaut, having scored more goals (30) than any other team in Liga MX. Rayados had four players (Arturo González, Rogelio Funes Mori, Nicolás Sánchez, and Avilés Hurtado) with four or more goals in the Clausura while only Miller Bolaños was able to do so for Xolos.

It’s not just a classic match of the best defense against the best offense, as both teams are capable of switching gears. Monterrey has kept five clean sheets, including the 0-0 draw against Tijuana at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer back in January. Xolos also had three games where they scored three goals or more, and while the offense hasn’t produced at the same rate as Xolos’ teams of the past it still has the talent to hold their own.