Tijuana vs Santos Laguna – Friday 7pm PT/10pm ET – Estadio Caliente, Tijuana.
Xolos Tijuana vs Santos Laguna represents the showdown between two of the most solid sides in Liga MX. Both clubs are still relatively young with Santos Laguna founded in 1988 and Xolos Tijuana in 2007. Neither club is, therefore, a traditional club in the European context, but both teams have plenty of support in the country and represent success.
Representing the urban area of La Comarca Lagunera, which is the ninth largest metropolitan area in Mexico with a population of 1.5 million, Santos Laguna have won five Liga MX titles with the last success dating back to the 2014-15 season when the Los Guerreros won the closing stage of the Liga MX season. The club also won two successive CONCACAF Champions League titles in 2012 and 2013. Hence, while Santos Laguna are a young club, there are also one of the most successful in Mexican football.
Xolos Tijuana in the meantime are a baby even compared to Santos Laguna. Founded just ten years ago Xolos are the youngest club in Liga MX. Owned by the shrill businessman Jorge Hank—Wikipedia claims he has 32 children—Xolos are the latest incarnation of professional football in the city. Originally founded as Gallos Caliente, the name of Hank’s betting company, the club was renamed Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente or short just Xolos. Xoloitzcuintles is a hairless dog that originates in the area, which was considered a part of the diet for the Aztecs.
Nowadays Xolos are kept by pets, and it is claimed that they are Hank’s favourite dogs. Despite the long name and the glamorous ownership Xolos have done very well in the short history of the club. Playing at home in the modern Caliente Stadium Xolos are in fact a model club that has embraced its proximity to the United States. Located in the San Diego area, the club is the favourite football club of many San Diegan citizens, who regularly cross the border to support their team. The proximity to the United States has also meant that many Americans have played for the club.
A well-run club Xolos won the Liga MX Apertura in 2012, and when the San Diego Union-Tribune printed a picture of the club on the front page of their newspaper, they became the first soccer team to make it on the front cover of a major United States based newspaper. The club remained a strong entity in the league and finished first in the regular season last year, but at the same time could not get it done in the playoffs.
As a result, the club has gone through a minor rebuild ahead of this season, and with former head coach, Miguel Herrera leaving the club have somewhat struggled. Winless in their first four games of the season Xolos will want to finally get their first win when Santos Laguna, who also have not won a game yet, come to town on Friday. With both teams still looking for three points, this could be a fascinating match to watch with both teams going all out.
Tijuana vs Santos Laguna – Players to look out for:
Gustavo Bou #7 – Tijuana
As mentioned above Tijuana are in a rebuild. Star striker Aviles Hurtado was one of the players who left the club ahead of this season. The Argentine striker Gustavo Bou, who was signed from Racing Club, replaced him. Bou scored 44 goals in 94 games for Racing Club and is seen as having the potential to replace Hurtado. But in four games for Tijuana, he has only scored once as he is still trying to get used to his new surroundings.
Julio Furch #9 – Santos Laguna
While Bou will want to get settled in Liga MX another Argentine has already achieved that. Santos Laguna’s Julio Furch has already scored twice in the first four matches this season. Signed last January from Veracruz Furch is a strong, tall and powerful forward, who is especially dangerous in set piece situations.
Tijuana vs Santos Laguna – Match Stats
- Tijuana are still winless this season.
- Tijuana have not lost to Santos Laguna in three matches and have only lost two games in the last eight games.
- Tijuana’s Emanuel Aguilera has the highest average interception rate in Liga MX this season.
- Like Tijuana Santos Laguna are still winless.
- Santos Laguna have failed to keep a clean sheet against Tijuana in nine consecutive games.
- Santos Laguna’s Argentine Julio Furch has scored twice as many goals as the entire Tijuana side together.
Prediction: Tijuana vs Santos Laguna 3-1
Tijuana vs Santos Laguna – Possible Lineups
Lajud – Orozco, Valenzuela, Aguilera, Perez – Mendoza, Corona, Musto, Malcorra – Chavez – Bou
Coach: Eduardo Coudet
Orozco – Sánchez, Arteaga, Enríquez, Araujo – Rodriguez, Martinez, Rivas – Tavares, Sandoval, Furch
Coach: Jose Manuel de la Torre
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.