Although the end of the regular season is still two months away, Friday night’s match between Tijuana and Pachuca will truly have the feel of a playof
Although the end of the regular season is still two months away, Friday night’s match between Tijuana and Pachuca will truly have the feel of a playoff clash. This week’s game at the Estadio Caliente will not only be a fight between 1st and 3rd place, but will also be a showcase of the league’s best defensive and attacking sides.
With only five goals allowed in eight matches, no other roster has proven to be more effective in defense than Pachuca. Thanks to an impressive backline duo of Omar Gonzalez and Oscar Murillo, Los Tuzos have been able to regularly stifle and halt many goalscoring opportunities this season.
That said, the figure who is most likely to stand out for Pachuca is Hirving Lozano. The left winger, who is one of the most thrilling players in the league, is the focal point of Los Tuzos’ attack. With an intimidating amount of speed and a surprisingly powerful shot, the 21-year-old Mexican is one to keep an eye on.
Luckily for Xolos, manager Miguel Herrera has a variety of attacking options of his own that have accumulated a total of 18 goals in eight matches. When it comes to finding the backing of the net, Tijuana is clearly second to none in the league.
While Aviles Hurtado and Paul Arriola have been key figures in Xolos’ successful attack, others like Juan Martin Lucero and Ignacio Malcorra have also started to step up in recent weeks.
Looking ahead to Friday night, the big question is if any of those aforementioned names will be able to sneak anything past Gonzalez and Murillo.
Key to success for Tijuana — Avoiding crosses
Due in part to the strength of the Murillo-Gonzalez partnership, Pachuca has yet to allow a goal off a header or free kick this season. Although an out-and-out striker like Milton Caraglio has the abilities to out-muscle either of the two, and potentially find a goal on Friday, it appears as though it would be best to avoid a focus on crosses.
Against Pachuca, Herrera should rely on keeping the ball on the ground. Aiming for shots from distance, something which has worked for a few teams this season, is another strategy worth trying for Tijuana.
Xolos player to watch — Michael Orozco
Although Tijuana’s attack will have the difficult task of getting a goal against Pachuca’s intimidating defense, Orozco will have the most daunting task of the night: Stopping Lozano.
When Los Tuzos push forward, much of the focus and responsibility in the attack is usually placed on the shoulders of their left winger. This means that Orozco, Xolos’ right-back, will have a key role in at least salvaging a point at home this Friday.
Predicted score — Tijuana 1-1 Pachuca