Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Cruz Azul Fútbol Club, A.C.
Date: Wednesday, August 28th
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Caliente (Tijuana, B.C.)
Referees: REF: José Alfredo Peñaloza Soto, AR1: José Alfredo López Cruz, AR2: Enrique Martìnez Sandoval, 4TH: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo
Radio: 98.9 FM (Tijuana/San Diego), 106.7 FM (Calexico/Mexicali)
All-time record: Cruz Azul holds the all-time record, with eight wins to Tijuana’s four with the clubs drawing seven times across all competitions. The record in Liga MX play is similar, with Cruz Azul holding six wins to Xolos’ three with seven draws between them. They’ve met once in the Copa MX tournament, with Cruz Azul winning in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 Clausura tournament. They’ve also met in the 2013-14 Concacaf Champions League, with Cruz Azul winning 2-1 on aggregate on their way to their sixth CCL title. The last time the clubs played each other, Cruz Azul beat Xolos 1-0 at Estadio Azteca on January 26th. Eliás Hernández converted a penalty in the 24th minute to win the game. The last time the clubs met at Estadio Caliente in Liga MX play, the clubs played to a 1-1 draw on August 12, 2018. In that meeting, Miller Bolaños scored for Xolos but Gerardo Flores would convert a penalty in stoppage time to draw the sides level.
After a tough loss on the road to Toluca (1W 1D 4L), Tijuana (2W 1D 2L) returns home to the Mictlán to host Cruz Azul (2W 3D 1L) on a rare Wednesday night match. Xolos suffered a 2-0 loss to Toluca on Sunday. That said, Tijuana also hasn’t lost at home this season, and playing out on the west coast in front of the fans at Estadio Caliente will always make it difficult for any opponent that comes to town.
Xolos will be without Camilo Sanvezzo, who was sent off with a red card in the match against Toluca. Ángel Sepúlveda will most likely get the start up to alongside Ariel Nahuelpán if manager Óscar Pareja goes with the 4-4-2, although youngster Antonio “Chapín” Nava could take Sanvezzo’s spot if Pareja would rather a 4-2-3-1 with Nava out on the right with Washington Camacho on the left and Bolaños in the center behind Nahuelpán.
Cruz Azul hasn’t lost in their last three, but wins over Juárez (1W 0D 4L) and Atlas (3W 1D 3L) and a draw against Puebla (0W 2D 3L) doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. Pedro Caixinha’s team is offensively sound, with players like Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez, Roberto “Piojo” Alvarado, Elías Hernández, and ex-Xolos forward Milton Caraglio on a team that has only scored seven goals in their six games.
Caixinha is known for being a pragmatic manager, who will focus on defense rather than offense. That said, the players on his squad could be used in a much more offensive manner and given an opportunity could potentially survive in a track meet. But this dichotomy has yet yielded only a confusing set of results. La Maquina are everything and nothing; not scoring enough and giving up too many while managing to have a balanced record. The game against Xolos should help us know more about who and what they are, but this late in to the season they should already have an identity.