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Match preview: Club Tijuana vs. Cruz Azul

Cruz Azul has been one of the best teams in the league this season, and they’ll head to the Mictlán to face Xolos.

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Tijuana v Monterrey - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images

Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club Deportivo Social y Cultural Cruz Azul Asociación S.A. de C.V.

Date: Sunday, September 13th

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: Oscar Mejia Garcia, AR1: Mario Jesús López Carrillo, AR2: Jorge Antonio Sánchez Espinoza, 4TH: Jesus Rafael Lopez Valle, VAR: Gerardo Martínez Bravo, AVAR: Jesús Sevilla Palafox

Television: United States - Fox Sports 1, FOX Deportes Networka; Mexico - Fox Sports; Belize - Fox Sports; Costa Rica - Fox Sports; Dominican Republic - Fox Sports; El Salvador - Fox Sports; Guatemala - Fox Sports; Honduras - Fox Sports; Nicaragua - Fox Sports; Panama - Fox Sports; Venezuela - Fox Sports

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling TV (Free trial + monthly subscription), FOX Sports GO, FOXSports.com, Vidgo (Free trial + monthly subscription)

All-time record: Cruz Azul holds the all-time record, with nine wins to Tijuana’s five with the clubs drawing seven times across all competitions. The record in Liga MX play is similar, with Cruz Azul holding seven wins to Xolos’ four 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 met, Cruz Azul won 4-2 at Estadio Azteca back on March 7th thanks to a brace from Roberto “Piojo” Alvarado and goals from Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez and Julio “Cata” Domínguez. Xolos got goals from Ignacio Rivero and Erick “Cubo” Torres. The last time they met in Tijuana, Xolos came back from being down 2-1 to win 3-2 thanks to goals from Julián Velázquez, Kevin Balanta, and Cubo while Cruz Azul’s goals were scored by Pablo Aguilar and Yoshimar Yotún.

Tijuana v Puebla FC - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
It’s been a tough first season in Tijuana for Pablo Guede.
Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images

It hasn’t been the season that Xolos fans had hoped for. Initially tipped to be a dark horse candidate for Liguilla success, Tijuana (3W 1D 5L) entered the week in 13th place with a tough trip to Mexico City to face Cruz Azul (6W 1D 2L) on Sunday. The good news for Tijuana is that they’ve won two straight at home including a 2-1 win over Monterrey (3W 4D 2L) last time out. In those games, Xolos defense stepped up and was able to frustrate a powerful Rayados offense as well as a Puebla (3W 1D 5L) offense that had started to show promise.

The bad news has been Tijuana’s lack of scoring. Their seven goals scored is second worst in the league, ahead of only Necaxa (2W 2D 5L, 6 goals scored) and they simply don’t have a goalscoring threat. Gone are Ariel Nahuelpán and Camilo Sanvezzo and Miller Bolaños is in limbo. Left are Bryan Angulo and Fabián Castillo who have been serviceable, but don’t pose the same sort of threat as any of the aforementioned forwards.

(Editor’s note: After publication, FOX Deportes reported that Xolos had seven positive cases of COVID-19, four of which were players and three on the technical staff - including Pablo Guede.)

Atletico San Luis v Cruz Azul - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
Cabecita Rodríguez has seven goals on the season, one behind André-Pierre Gignac for the lead heading into Week 10.
Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

Cruz Azul does not have that problem. Jonathan Rodríguez has been on fire, scoring seven goals so far this tournament and nine in the abbreviated 2020 Clausura, however he’s not their only scoring threat. Santiago Giménez and Juan Escobar both have two goals on the season, and Piojo Alvarado, Yoshimar Yotún and Milton Caraglio also pose scoring threats.

The difference between Cruz Azul and everyone else however is they’re defensively sound as well. Robert Dante Siboldi’s team has allowed just six goals, which is just behind León (5W 3D 1L, five goals conceded). Goalkeeper José Corona may be approaching 40, but he and his defense have shut out three straight opponents and allowed multiple goals against just once, in a 3-2 win over FC Juárez (2W 4D 3L).

While it’d be easy to write this one off as a Cruz Azul win, Xolos have been good at home and have handled business against strong teams. And never forget that Liga MX is nothing if not unpredictable.