Game: Impulsora del Deportivo Necaxa S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Saturday, February 23rd
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Victoria (Aguascalientes, Ags.)
Referees: REF: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: Miguel Ángel Hernández Paredes, AR2: Rene Ramirez Ayala, 4TH: Oscar Mejia Garcia
Streaming: ESPN+ (Free trial + monthly subscription)
All-time record: The two teams have each won twice and the clubs tied once in Liga MX play. The teams do have a history dating back to their days in the Ascenso MX, with the clubs both getting a win in regular season play. Necaxa did however blow Xolos out in the playoffs in a 5-0 rout in the 2010 Clausura Semifinals. Xolos has the advantage in the Copa MX though, winning four and drawing only once. Xolos won the last match 1-0 at Estadio Caliente in the 2018 Clausura, however their last trip to Aguascalientes resulted in a 1-0 loss in the 2017 Apertura.
Necaxa (3W 2D 1L) looks to break a four game winless streak across all competitions when they host a surging Tijuana (3W 1D 3L), who are unbeaten in five across all competitions. Los Rayos’ 14 goals rank them third in Liga MX, which is impressive considering they still have a game in hand as their Week 1 match against Club América is now a midweek match on Tuesday, March 6.
Make no mistake however; Necaxa is struggling. They’ve allowed 10 goals, which sits them at 12th overall in the league. Almost half of the goals scored so far this season are from one person - Bryan Fernandez. The Argentine forward accounts for six of the fourteen goals, and having that much of a team’s goalscoring wrapped up in Fernandez means he always has a target on him. According to conventional wisdom, stopping Fernandez should stop Necaxa.
Attempting to stop both Fernandez and Necaxa will be Tijuana. They’ve really hit a stride in the last few matches and will look to keep that good run of team form going. They will need to do that without the services of Fabián Castillo, who manager Óscar Pareja said would be out for the next two weeks with an injury he picked up early in their 3-0 win over Veracruz last Friday.
Look for Jesús Angulo to get minutes on the left wing, as he replaced Castillo in the Veracruz match and performed admirably. Angulo will also help Xolos in their endeavor to meet the youth requirements as Tijuana is currently last in the league, having played youth players for a total of 134 minutes of a required 1000.
Tijuana’s defense will have to contain Fernandez. The good news for Xolos fans is that the back line of Luis Fuentes, Diego Braghieri, Julián Velázquez, and Omar Mendoza is playing well and is improving every game. Tijuana has allowed one goal in their past three Liga MX matches and seven overall this season, good enough for sixth in the league.