Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club León
Date: Friday, November 22nd
Time: 10:10 p.m. Eastern, 9:10 p.m. Central, 7:10 p.m. Pacific, 2:10 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Referees: REF: Roberto García Orozco, AR1: Pablo Israel Hernández Luna, AR2: Eduardo Acosta Orea, 4TH: Eduardo Galvan Basulto
Radio: 98.9 FM (Tijuana/San Diego), 106.7 FM (Calexico/Mexicali)
All-time record: León has the edge, winning 13 to Xolos’ 12 with the clubs having seven draws between them across all competitions. Their record in the Ascenso is deadlocked with four wins each and four draws, with perhaps the most important being Xolos’ 3-0 win on aggregate in the 2011 Clausura semifinals, with Tijuana winning promotion that season. In Liga MX play, León has the advantage, with nine wins to Xolos’ eight and three draws between the teams. The last time the teams met, León beat Tijuana 5-2 on aggregate in the first round of the 2019 Clausura Liguilla. The last time they met at Estadio Caliente in the regular season, the clubs played to a 1-1 draw back on August 5, 2018. Walter González scored for León while Luis Fuentes salvaged the point for Xolos.
Tijuana’s (7W 3D 7L) Liguilla hopes hang in the balance as arch-rival León (8W 6D 3L) heads to The Mictlán in the final week of Liga MX’s 2019 Apertura. Tijuana and Monterrey (7W 3D 7L) are tied, with Monterrey currently making the Liguilla by virtue of goal differential (+2 to Tijuana’s -9).
Tijuana has been awful in their past two games out, losing to Juárez (5W 3D 9L) 3-0 and Monterrey 4-0. Official Liga MX stats have zero shots on goal for Xolos in those two games, and SofaScore has them at five shots on target in those two games (for context, they gave up fourteen in that span). They’ve given up 34 goals, second only to Veracruz (42).
Óscar Pareja had the international break to get his Xolos team back on track, and while not impossible he has his work cut out for him. Ariel Nahuelpán has just six goals, and Camilo Sanvezzo has only three goals on the season, the last of which came back in Week 13. The team has also lacked discipline, with the squad picking up 46 yellow cards (second most in the league), one second yellow, and six direct red cards (worst in the league). They’ll be without Jordan Silva, who picked up a red card in the 21st minute in the match against Rayados.
León on the other hand comes in having lost one in their last six, and downing Toluca (4W 4D 9L) 4-0 their last time out. José Juan “JJ” Macías has eight goals, Ángel Mena has seven, and the team as a whole has 36 goals, just two off of league leader Santos Laguna’s pace.
With speculation rife about where Macías will be playing in January, León will be looking to make a deep run into the Liguilla, and it looks like they have the personnel to do so. They currently sit in fourth place, one point behind Necaxa (9W 4D 4L) and Club América (8W 7D 3L), who are idle this week.
Rivalry games however are unpredictable, and this one could prove to be no exception. Xolos know what they need to do in order to have a chance at the Liguilla. León will want to position themselves as high in the standings as they can, but that’s not the same life-or-death struggle to play next week.