Game: Club Puebla vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Friday, July 19th
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Cuauhtémoc (Puebla, Pue.)
Referees: REF: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AR1: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, AR2: Juan Carlos Salinas Salinas, 4TH: Oscar Mejia Garcia
All-time record: Xolos holds the lead in all-time league play, winning six to Puebla’s five while the clubs have drawn five times. Xolos won the last meeting 4-0 in Week 17 of the 2019 Clausura at Estadio Caliente. At Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Puebla holds the decided edge however, having won four to Xolos one win while the clubs drew three times. The last time the clubs met in Puebla was for a 0-0 draw in Week 17 of the 2018 Apertura. In Copa MX play, Xolos won once and the clubs drew the other in the group stage of the 2017 Apertura tournament.
The first match of the 2019 Liga MX Apetura is upon us as Puebla hosts Tijuana at the historic Estadio Cuauhtémoc. When these two clubs last met back in May, both clubs were looking to be the eighth and final seed in the Liguilla. The result was a controversial match that saw a potential Puebla penalty disallowed and the sending off of Vladimir Loroña in the 52nd minute as Xolos beat Puebla 4-0 and went on to face their archrival León. While there may be some hard feelings from the fans and some of the players, not all of them will necessarily be out for revenge.
Loroña moved to Los Xoloitzcuintles in the offseason and joined a very different squad than the one he faced off against a few short weeks ago. Gone are young prospects Jesús Angulo and Luis Chávez as well as Eryc Castillo, Fabián Castillo, and Gustavo Bou. In their place are Loroña, Leonel Miranda and Washington Camacho coming from teams in Argentina, Aldo Cruz and Mauro Laínez from Lobos BUAP, and Jordan Silva from Cruz Azul. Victor Torres and Fernando Arce, Jr. return from Dorados de Sinaloa where they had been on loan, and Camilo Sanvezzo from Querétaro.
With the new roster, Xolos should be improved in the midfield and on defense. Sanvezzo will be a suitable replacement for Bou, and an attacking midfield of Camacho on the right, Miller Bolaños in the center, and Sanvezzo shifting between left wing and second striker with big Ariel Nahuelpán up top should be entertaining to watch.
Puebla didn’t make as many roster changes as Tijuana, with their only big roster moves being Loroña going to Xolos and Francisco Acuña leaving while acquiring Maximiliano Perg from Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting and Christian Marrugo from Millonarios in Colombia as well as young prospects Daniel Lajud and Aldo Magaña. Puebla still have a decent core of players, anchored in goal by Nicolás Vikonis and up top by Lucas Cavallini and Christian Tabó.
While Puebla barely missed out on the Liguilla last season, it remains to be seen if they improved enough to keep pace with the rest of the league and perhaps even jump into the playoff tournament. While nothing is impossible in Liga MX, Puebla will have a hard time proving their critics wrong and having a successful campaign. That said, the first couple of weeks almost always see the conventional wisdom that’s carried over from the previous season thrown out the window with fluke results that turn into momentum both positive and negative.