Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club Puebla
Date: Saturday, May 4th
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: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: Christian Kiabek Espinosa Zavala, AR2: Telly Salvador Saldivar Guzman, 4TH: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo
Radio: 98.9 FM (Tijuana/San Diego), 106.7 FM (Calexico/Mexicali)
All-time record: In Liga MX play, the teams are split exactly down the middle. Both teams have won five, lost five, and they have drawn five times. They also met in the 2017 Apertura Copa MX tournament, where Tijuana won once and the teams drew once. The last time they met, the clubs played to a 0-0 draw at Estadio Cuauhtemoc in the 2018 Apertura. The last match at Estadio Caliente saw Xolos come away with a 2-0 win.
Rarely is the path to the Liguilla in the final week of the season as simple as it is now. A win or draw by Tijuana sees Xolos go, a win by Pubela and they’re in. The good news for Xolos fans is that Tijuana has been good at home. Despite a disappointing 2-1 loss to Lobos BUAP last time at Estadio Caliente, Tijuana has won five of the seven matches at home this season.
Tijuana has been getting good performances from key players lately as well. Gustavo Bou won Player of the Week honors both from English-language journalists that cover Liga MX as well as the league itself for his performance in Xolos’ 4-1 win over Monarcas Morelia. Miller Bolaños has also emerged as one of the teams’ best offensive options, his six goals trailing Bou by just one on the season.
Worth considering is that Puebla’s road form has been better than their home form. Away from the multicolored exterior of Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla has compiled a 4W 1D 2L record winning their last two road games against Chivas and Lobos BUAP. Both games saw a Puebla player with a brace, the former thanks to Brayan Angulo and the latter to Lucas Cavallini.
The numbers can be deceiving however. Only two of the teams they’ve faced on the road are playoff teams. They lost 1-0 to Club América and drew Monterrey 0-0 and have a 0W 4D 3L record against the seven teams that have already secured their slots in the Liguilla. The only goals scored against playoff teams have come from Lucas Cavallini (1), Vladimir Loroña (1), and Matías Alustíza (2).
The onus will be squarely on Puebla to make something happen. Both teams will need to be smart and capitalize on any opportunities that may be presented to them.