Pachuca has been among the most maddeningly inconsistent teams in the league, while Tijuana has been a pleasant surprise.
When the Tuzos are good, they can be dangerous. When they are bad, they are a lost cause. The problem is that Pachuca has fluctuated between good and bad all season. As a result, although the Tuzos are solidly in the playoff hunt, they find themselves with a negative goal differential.
Tijuana has surprised pundits with their solid performance thus far, and the Xolos have already racked up more wins through 9 games (5) than they had all last season (4-5-8).
New coach Oscar Pareja has patiently installed his tactical ideas and his players have embraced the strategy. The good results will only reinforce Pareja’s program.
Tigres 3, Pachuca 0
Tuzos central defender scored two own-goals in the game’s first 32 minutes and Pachuca never recovered, though they forced Tigres goalie Nahuel Guzmán to make 7 saves. The Tigres basically played keepaway the remainder of the match, allowing the Tuzos only 39% possession.
Tijuana 3, Atlas 1
The Xolos jumped on visiting Atlas from the beginning, getting early goals from Erick Castillo and Ariel Nahuelpan, then clamping down on defense. Nahuelpan scored again in minute 79 after the Zorros had closed the gap to 2-1 in minute 50, but Tijuana was in control of the match throughout.
López – Tapias – Murillo – E. Hernández
Guzmán – J. Hernández
Aguirre – Cardona – Sosa
Coach Martín Palermo has settled upon this formation but continues to tinker with the line-up. He has the luxury of having a rather decent bench and Víctor Dávila, Leo Ullo and Pablo López are all available as attacking alternatives. Pachuca must be more patient with the ball and force opponents to chase a bit more, instead of launching a shot at the first opportunity.
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Martinez – Velazquez – Braghieri – Fuentes
Castillo – Rodriguez – Rivero – Bolaños
Bou – Nahuelpan
The Xolos’ formation often morphs into a 4-4-1-1 with Gustavo Bou dropping back behind Nahuelpan. The Xolos back line is greatly improved from last season and is helped considerably by the willingness of Nahuelpan and others to track back and challenge for the ball. The offense has been more than adequate with the additions of Bou and Nahuelpan, but the bigger difference is the tactical discipline.
Pachuca: Midfielder Edwin Cardona has been given the keys to the offense and his playmaking has been inconsistent, primarily because he is still familiarizing himself with his teammates. If he can find holes in the Tijuana defense, he should be able to provide scoring opportunities for Ismael Sosa and even Víctor Guzmán.
Tijuana: Forward Gustavo Bou has become a reliable presence in the offensive third, but the Xolos have not found a reliable midfield general to distribute the ball more effectively. However, their spacing, movement and patience has been enough to produce offense.
Pachuca has won all four of its home games this far in the Clausura by a 9-1 aggregate score. Their problem has been playing on the road (0-2-3 with a 2-11 goal differential). Fortunately for the Tuzos, this game is at Estadio Hidalgo. Tijuana has been playing such solid football that Pachuca better come prepared to play, or else their home win streak will come to an end. It’s time for the Tuzos to make a statement … and then carry it forward.