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Match preview: Cruz Azul vs. Tijuana

Xolos need a win to make the repechaje while a Cruz Azul win would make history.

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Cruz Azul v Atletico San Luis - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

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

Date: Saturday, May 1st

Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Azteca (Tlalpan, CDMX)

Referees: REF: Adonai Escobedo González, AR1: Miguel Angel Chua Ortiz, AR2: Michel Ricardo Espinoza Avalos, 4TH: Jesus Roberto Ruiz Gonzalez, VAR: José Alfredo Peñaloza Soto, AVAR: Igor Itzsvan Flores Florian

Television: United States - TUDN, Univision, ESPN Deportes; Mexico - TUDN, Canal 5 Televisa; Belize - EPSN2; Canada - OneSoccer; Costa Rica - ESPN2; Dominican Republic - ESPN2; El Salvador - ESPN2; Guatemala - ESPN2; Honduras - ESPN2; Nicaragua - ESPN2; Panama - ESPN2

Streaming: fuboTV (Subscription), Sling TV (Subscription), TUDN En Vivo, ESPN+, OneSoccer (Subscription), Vidgo (Subscription)

All-time record: Cruz Azul holds the all-time record, with ten 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 eight 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 they met in Tijuana, Cruz Azul won 2-1 on goals by Santiago Giménez and Jonathan “Cabecita” Rodríguez while Tijuana’s lone goal was from Edgar López, The last time the clubs met in CDMX, Cruz Azul won 4-2 at Estadio Azteca back on March 7th, 2020 thanks to a brace from Roberto “Piojo” Alvarado and goals from “Cabecita” and Julio “Cata” Domínguez. Xolos got goals from Ignacio Rivero and Erick “Cubo” Torres.

Club Tijuana v Necaxa - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Robert Dante Siboldi will be in control of just his second game with Xolos as they face the best team in the league this season.
Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images

In order to make the repechaje, Tijuana will need to win and get help from León and Monterrey, not allowing Querétaro and Mazatlán to win. Even if those stars align they’ll need to beat Cruz Azul, who have already clinched the superlíder with 40 points through 16 games.

Of course it’s not an impossibility for Tijuana to win, however Tijuana will have to perform much better than they have over the past few weeks. Their 1-0 win last week against lowly Necaxa put an end to a three match losing streak. The team struggled to finish their chances and looked generally flat at home.

Atletico San Luis v Cruz Azul - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
Jonathan Rodríguez could become the first player to win three straight scoring titles since Christian “Chucho” Benítez.
Photo by Leopoldo Smith/Getty Images

Cruz Azul is undefeated in their last 14 games and with the superlíder cinched, they may elect to rest some key players so as many as possible are healthy heading into the Liguilla. Cruz Azul however could have an eye on making history. A win would give them 43 points, tying them with América’s 43 point season in the 2002 Apertura for the most of any team in the split season era.

Jonathan Rodríguez has nine goals on the season, entering the week just two behind Alexis Canelo. If he can grab a share of the lead, “Cabecita” would be the first player to win at least a share of three straight scoring titles since Christian “Chucho” Benítez did it from the 2012 Clausura through the 2013 Clausura.

Matches are always difficult to predict, especially in Liga MX. And when one team will have either everything to play for or nothing at all to lose (the León match against Querétaro should end just before kickoff) and the other doesn’t have anything to prove, such predictions would only be an exercise in futility.