Game: Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente vs. Club León
Date: Friday, February 12th
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: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, AR1: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, AR2: Cesar Cerritos García, 4TH: Brian Omar Gonzalez Veles, VAR: Oscar Mejia Garcia, AVAR: Angel Monroy Bello
Television: United States - Fox Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - Fox Sports 2; Belize - FOX Sports 2; Costa Rica - FOX Sports 2; Dominican Republic - FOX Sports 2; El Salvador - FOX Sports 2; Guatemala - FOX Sports 2; Honduras - FOX Sports 2; Nicaragua - FOX Sports 2; Panama - FOX Sports 2; Venezuela - FOX Sports 2
All-time record: León has the edge, winning 15 to Xolos’ 12 with the clubs having seven draws between them across all competitions. Their record in the Ascenso is deadlocked with four wins each and four draws, with perhaps the most important being Xolos’ 3-0 win on aggregate in the 2011 Clausura semifinals, with Tijuana winning promotion that season. In Liga MX play, León has the advantage, with eleven wins to Xolos’ eight and three draws between the teams. The last time the teams met, León beat Tijuana 2-1 back on August 18, 2020 at the Nou Camp in León thanks to goals from Jean Meneses and Emmanuel Gigliotti, while Bryan Angulo scored the lone goal from Tijuana. Their last meeting in Tijuana was on November 22, 2019 and León also won by a 2-1 scoreline. Víctor Sosa and Leonardo Ramos scored for León while Xolos only goal was from Camilo Sanvezzo.
Last season’s Liga MX Champion León (1W 1D 2L) has struggled this season, while Tijuana (2W 3D 0L) missed the repechaje last season but this season sits just one point out of first place. They’ll meet tonight at Estadio Caliente, where Tijuana has gotten four of six possible points this season.
While last season’s Xolos couldn’t defend or score, this season’s iteration can do both. They’ve allowed a respectable four goals in their five games this season while scoring six, including a three goal outburst in their last home game against Toluca (3W 1D 1L). Perhaps more importantly, Pablo Guede’s side is getting consistent play from the first team. The team is defending well, limiting the amount and quality of shots on goal and looking to spring a counterattack on the opposition especially at the fast and friendly confines of the Estadio Caliente turf.
They’re also finishing chances too. Fidel Martínez has four goals in five games for Xolos and his prowess in front of goal is opening up opportunities for Miguel Sansores and Mauro Manotas. Tijuana looks like they’ve finally put together a strong, balanced team capable of making some noise.
León is not the same machine they were last season when they lifted the Liga MX trophy, but they are still dangerous. Last week’s 3-1 loss to Chivas () wasn’t great, but their only other loss this season was to the second best team in the entire world, Tigres (). They also have a game in hand due to their Week 3 match against Rayados () being postponed by an outbreak of COVID-19 with Monterrey.
The only significant changes from last season’s squad was the retirement of Ignacio “Nacho” González and sending Pedro Aquino to América. This is still a strong team that should not be taken lightly. Players like Rodolfo Cota, Luis “Chapito” Montes, Fernando Navarro, Emmanuel Gigliotti, and Nicolás Sosa have the ability to put the team on their back and change the course of a game. They will need to be at their best to beat Tijuana