Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Impulsora del Deportivo Necaxa S.A. de C.V.
Date: Friday, August 31st
Time: 10:06 p.m. Eastern, 9:06 p.m. Central, 7:06 p.m. Pacific, 2:06 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Referees: REF: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AR1: José Luis Camargo Callado, AR2: Miguel Angel Chua Ortiz, 4TH: Jonathan Hernandez Juarez
Radio: 98.9 FM (Tijuana/San Diego)
All-time record: In Liga MX play, Necaxa has won two of the four times the clubs have met, Xolos have won once, and the clubs drew once as well. When the teams were in Ascenso MX, they had the exact same record against one another. The teams have also met in Copa MX play, with Xolos winning four of four in the group stage. Necaxa however defeated Xolos in the 2016 Quarterfinal stage 6-5 on penalties.
Club Tijuana (1W 3D 3L) heads home to Baja California after a disappointing 1-0 loss to Veracruz (2W 1D 4L). Xolos have room for improvement, however their record perhaps belies the fact that they are creating chances. ESPN’s Tom Marshall shows Xolos being fourth in Liga MX in expected goals (xG), which is a measure of the quality of shots taken and calculates the amount of goals you’d expect a team to have based on those shots.
Xolos have plenty of offensive talent, with Ecuadoran national team member Miller Bolaños joined in the attacking midfield with countryman Eryc Castillo and Colombian Fabián Castillo. The midfield play has been good, but the forwards so far haven’t been able to score with regularity. Erick “Cubo” Torres and Juan Martín Lucero have combined for one goal on the season.
The defense anchored by Mexican National Team callup Gibran Lajud has been good, giving up just ten goals in seven games. As good as they’ve been, Xolos’ success depends on the offense being able to turn those expected goals into goals.
The good news for Tijuana is that they’ll be hosting a Necaxa (2W 2D 3L) team that has allowed 12 goals this season. Their last win in Liga MX play was on August 4 against Lobos BUAP, and if Xolos can beat them tonight they’ll leapfrog Los Rayos in the table.
The bad news is that they’ve scored 10 goals and in their last game they drew Tigres 1-1. Yes Tigres has struggled, but it’s still Tigres. Chilean Víctor Dávila has five of Rayos’ ten goals on the season, including the goal against Tigres last week.
Dávila has a knack for being in the right place at the right time and finishing his chances, so Xolos will need to make sure to keep a man on him at all times. Midfielder Diego “Torito” Rodríguez will most likely need to drop deeper to assist the center backs on keeping up with Dávila and forward Brian Fernández when Necaxa goes on the offensive.