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Match preview: Atlas vs. Club Tijuana

The last international break of the season reveals a sprint to the finish for Atlas and Xolos, both of whom need points to secure their spot in the playoffs.

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Atlas v Juarez - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Oscar Meza/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Atlas Fútbol Club vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente

Date: Saturday, April 3rd

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC (Check your local listings outside of the United States)

Venue: Estadio Jalisco (Guadalajara, Jal.)

Referees: REF: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, AR1: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, AR2: Jonathan Maximiliano Gómez, 4TH: Victor Alfonso Caceres Hernandez, VAR: Carlos Ayala Cuéllar, AVAR: Jesús Sevilla Palafox

Television: United States - TUDN; Mexico - Afizzionados

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), TUDN En Vivo

All-time record: Tijuana holds the slight edge on Atlas, winning five to Los Zorros’ four with the clubs drawing nine times. The teams last met on July 25, 2021 in Tijuana in a match Xolos won 3-1 thanks to goals from Miller Bolaños, Jordi Cortizo, and a Hugo Nervo autogol. Atlas’ lone goal was scored by Luciano Acosta. The last time they played in Guadalajara was on January 31, 2020 when Atlas defeated Xolos 2-1 in an empty Estadio Jalisco. The game was played behind closed doors because of Atlas’ fans repeated use of a homophobic slur in the prior match. Atlas got goals from Luciano Acosta and an 88th minute winner from Javier Correa, while Xolos’ lone goal was a penalty converted by Camilo Sanvezzo.

Cruz Azul v Atlas - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Aldo Rocha has two goals so far on the season for Atlas.
Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

After a brief rest thanks to the international break, Liga MX gets back in action and two teams on rollercoaster seasons see their paths cross when Atlas () hosts Tijuana (). Atlas started slow and it looked like the club was going to continue a trend of lifeless showings that piled on poor results. But something clicked, and after losing their first three games they went unbeaten in eight, catapulting themselves into Liguilla contention and looking a lock to make the repechaje. The only blemish on the record since Week 4 was a 3-2 loss to Cruz Azul, which was La Máquina’s tenth straight win. Not bad for a team left for dead.

Atlas relies heavily on their defense, which has allowed just 10 goals on the season. They’ve struggled a bit on the offensive front, scoring just 13 goals. They’ve been scoring by committee, with their co-leading goalscorers being Jairo Torres and Aldo Rocha with two goals each. They will be getting the services of Julio Furch at some point in the near future, as he continues his recovery from a fractured ankle suffered in the preseason.

Club Tijuana v Queretaro - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Fidel Martínez (#9) and Mauro Manotas have combined for ten goals on the season.
Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images

Tijuana’s trajectory has trended in the opposite direction than Atlas. After a hot start that saw them as high as third in the league, they’ve sunk to eighth place and could very well miss out on the repechaje with a few more poor results. Prior to their last game, a 3-1 win over Querétaro, they were winless in five, losing four and drawing one over that stretch.

Tijuana’s early games were defensively sound matches, and to an extent their later matches have been so as well. They’ve got some decent firepower up top, with Fidel Martínez scoring six goals and Mauro Manotas adding four. They don’t score much when they’re down however, and they’re down a lot. They’ve given up the first goal in four of their last six matches, losing three of those and drawing just once.

This game will have two teams that love to sit back and counter trying to bait the other into allowing them the chance, and it will be interesting to see which one takes the bait first. Both teams are in need of points for the playoff race, and with just a handful of games left every point is crucial.