Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club Puebla
Date: Sunday, August 23rd
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: Diego Montaño Robles, AR1: Mario Jesús López Carrillo, AR2: Leonardo Javier Castillo Rodríguez, 4TH: Edgar Allan Morales Olvera, VAR: Adonai Escobedo González, AVAR: Jonathan Hernandez Juarez
All-time record: Xolos holds the lead in league play, winning seven to Puebla’s six while the clubs have drawn five times. In Copa MX play, Xolos won once and the clubs drew the other match in the group stage of the 2017 Apertura tournament. Puebla won the last meeting 1-0 in Week 8 of the 2020 Clausura at Estadio Caliente thanks to a Christian Tabó goal.
It’s been a week for Club Tijuana (1W 1D 3L). The club lost to Atlético San Luis (1W 2D 2L) and rivals León (3W 1D 1L) during the doble jornada, and then striker Ariel Nahuelpán left the club after a rumored fight with Miller Bolaños. After all of that, they’re set to host a Puebla (2W 1D 2L) club that has gone toe-to-toe with some of the league’s best teams.
Tijuana was thin at striker before Nahuelpán’s departure, and they’re now going to rely on Bryan Angulo and Fabián Castillo up top. Angulo’s lone goal in the 208 minutes he’s played was a penalty conversion last week against León while Castillo still hasn’t scored in 428 minutes this season. While Angulo is a forward by trade, he’s best used as a second striker behind a goalscoring threat like Nahuelpán. Castillo does his best work as a left wing that cuts in toward goal, meaning one or both will have to go outside of their comfort zone in order for the partnership to work.
This also doesn’t address what was the team’s biggest need - defense. Only Toluca (3W 0D 2L) has given up more goals (10) than Tijuana so far this season (9). The only defenders to play in all five matches are Miguel Barbieri and Víctor Guzmán, and only Guzmán has played all 450 minutes. Tijuana will need to figure something out, and fast.
Puebla comes in having lost two straight, but they’ve been one of the stronger teams on the season. Santiago Ormeño is having a breakout season with three goals so far in the Apertura. Christian Tabó is always dangerous, although is prone to picking up unnecessary cards at inopportune times.
At the other end, Puebla’s defense is having a good season despite not having many household names. Nicolás Vikonis and the defense have held Tigres (2W 2D 1L) to two goals, Cruz Azul (3W 1D 1L) and Pachuca (2W 1D 2L) to one, and shut out Chivas (2W 1D 2L).
Xolos would have a hard time with a team like Puebla before all of the outside distractions of the moment. Sometimes however this sort of adversary can pull a team closer together and serve as a polarizing moment in a positive way. Puebla on the other hand needs to do a professional job and not fall victim to a trap game.