Game: Club Puebla vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Friday, January 22nd
Time: 8:30 p.m. Eastern, 7:30 p.m. Central, 5:30 p.m. Pacific, 1:30 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Cuauhtémoc (Puebla, Pue.)
Referees: REF: Adonai Escobedo González, AR1: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, AR2: Eduardo Acosta Orea, 4TH: Jesus Rafael Lopez Valle, VAR: Arturo Cruz Hurtado, AVAR: Igor Itzsvan Flores Florian
All-time record: Xolos holds the lead in league play, winning eight 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. In their last meeting, Xolos won 1-0 in Tijuana thanks to a Bryan Angulo goal back on September 23. Their last meeting in Puebla was in Week 1 of the 2019 Apertura way back on July 19, 2019. In that match, Xolos won 3-1 thanks to goals from Washington Camacho, Ariel Nahuelpán, and Ángel Sepúlveda while Puebla’s lone goal came from Christian Tabó.
It’s been a long time since Tijuana (0W 2D 0L) went to Puebla (1W 1D 0L). I realize that time doesn’t seem to have much meaning anymore, but July 19, 2019 really was a long time ago. The three players that scored goals for Tijuana aren’t even there any longer. In fact, every single player from that gameday 18 left the club, with only Julián Velázquez returning this season from a stint with Querétaro.
Gone too is manager Óscar Pareja, now plying his trade with Orlando City in Major League Soccer. Instead, Pablo Guede is helming the team and has replaced Pareja’s free-wheeling run-and-gun style with a more pragmatic, defense-oriented style. This season it’s been effective, and Xolos is one of just four teams not to concede after two weeks.
Xolos however are also one of four teams to not score after two weeks, which is obviously problematic. The club has players who can score in Fabián Castillo, Mauro Manotas, and Miguel Sansores, but so far the goals and the chemistry hasn’t come.
It may be difficult for that chemistry to develop against Puebla, who have allowed only one goal in their two games. Puebla are pretty strong defensively in their own right, anchored by new goalkeeper Antony Silva and center back Maximilano Araújo. After giving up 25 goals last season, Puebla has looked much more composed in 2021.
They can also score, with Christian Tabó and Santiago Ormeño up top scoring this season and combining for seven goals in last year’s campaign. Tabó is also one of three players with Puebla who played in the last match these teams played at Estadio Cuauhtémoc, joining Omar Fernández and Jesús Rodríguez.
These two teams are still trying to establish their identities and see if what they’ve built will work. Puebla may be a little further down that road than Tijuana, but this should be a good test for both teams to see where they stand and what they’ll need to work on for the stretch.