Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club de Fútbol Lobos de la Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla
Date: Friday, April 19th
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: Eduardo Galvan Basulto, AR1: Enríque Isaac Bustos Díaz, AR2: Alejandro Ayala Valderrama, 4TH: Jesus Roberto Ruiz Gonzalez
Radio: 98.9 FM (Tijuana/San Diego), 106.7 FM (Calexico/Mexicali)
All-time record: Tijuana leads the series in Liga MX play two wins to one, while the clubs have not drawn in the Mexican top division. They do have a history dating back to the Ascenso MX, with Lobos holding a four wins to three edge with the clubs drawing twice, not including Lobos 4-2 win on aggregate in the 2009 Clausura Liguilla. Lobos has also defeated Tijuana once and drawn them once in Copa MX play, back in the 2016 Apertura. In the 2018 Apertura matchup, Lobos downed Xolos 3-1 at Estadio Universitario BUAP. The last time the club’s met at Estadio Caliente, Xolos won 3-1 back in the 2018 Clausura.
It’s been a bit of a roller coaster for Tijuana (7W 1D 6L) lately, with a thrilling 3-2 win against Club América (7W 2D 5L) last time our at Estadio Caliente bookended by a 4-0 thrashing in the Copa MX by Las Águilas and a disappointing 1-0 loss to Pumas (4W 4D 6L) in CU. They’ll host Lobos BUAP (5W 2D 7L) under the Friday night lights at Estadio Caliente looking to improve on their current eighth seed in the Liguilla.
Tijuana has been good at home this season, with the only blemish a 3-0 loss to Tigres (10W 2D 2L) back in Week 2. Since then, they’ve won every match at home, out scoring opponents 12-3 on home turf. They’ve been entertaining offensively, with the front four of Ariel Nahuelpán, Fabián Castillo, Miller Bolaños, and Gustavo “Pantera” Bou harkening back to the run-and-gun days of Duvier Riascos and Alfredo Moreno.
Lobos BUAP come to Tijuana with their Liguilla ambitions being qualified as “still mathematically possible.” That Lobos are even at this point are a testament to what manager Juan Francisco “Paco” Palencia has been able to accomplish. Technically relegated after last season, Lobos have been able to get great performances from Leonardo Ramos (six goals) and Michaell Chirinos (three goals and an assist) to not just avoid relegation but thrive in Liga MX.
Its still been a tough season for Lobos however. Their playoff ambitions are at the mercy of other teams, and Tijuana occupies the final Liguilla spot. While they’ll be doing everything they can to get a critical win against a team that they need to surpass, Lobos road form has been poor. They’ve won twice and drawn once away from Puebla, however they’ve lost three and been outscored 12-4 this season on the road.
Tijuana should be considered heavy favorites in the match, with the team’s speed - especially on the artificial turf of Estadio Caliente - potentially presenting huge problems for Lobos’ center back pairing of Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez (37 years old) and Michael Orozco (33 years old). Tijuana will also need to play some of its younger players to meet the 1,000 minute rule for menores (minor players), which could present a different facet to the matchup.