The Rayados visit the Xolos after a busy week that featured a Clásico Regio and a Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal match.
Monterrey visits the Xolos of Tijuana in a match that features two teams in the top six and might be the best game of the weekend. Of course, when a Super Clásico is scheduled on the same night as your game, you run the risk of being overlooked.
The Rayados are currently in 3rd place – the lowest they have been in the standings since Week 2 – but they remain the only undefeated team in Liga MX.
Tijuana fell from 4th to 6th after getting routed by Pachuca last week, a loss that ended an impressive 5-game unbeaten run. The Xolos are 6 points back of Monterrey, 7 behind league-leading León. Tijuana responded midweek by defeating Morelia 1-0 on the road to advance to the Copa MX semifinals.
The game pits the free-flowing vertical offensive approach of Diego Alonso’s Rayados and the disciplined, pressing style of Oscar Pareja’s Xolos. It should be a fun game to watch.
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Monterrey 1, Tigres 1
The Rayados were hosting their crosstown rivals who were without their leading scorer, while Monterrey’s leading scorer – Rogelio Funes Mori – put the home side up in minute 34 with a spectacular back-heel. Midway through the second half, the Rayados switched to a more conservative style and tried to defend their 1-goal lead. The strategy backfired as the Tigres found the equalizer with 9 minutes remaining, costing Monterrey the chance to return to the top of the standings.
Pachuca 4, Tijuana 0
The less said about this game, the better. The Xolos gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes at Pachuca and then seemed to fall apart. The Tuzos could have reached double figures in goals, they were that dominant.
Layún – Montes – Sánchez – Vangioni
Pizarro – Ortiz – Rodríguez – Gallardo
Pabón – Funes Mori
The way the Rayados attack this is almost a 4-2-4 with Celso Ortiz and Carlos Rodríguez roaming the midfield, freeing up Rodolof Pizarro and Jesús Gallardo to remain in attacking positions. That’s not to say Gallardo and Pizarro do not help on defense, but Monterrey’s vertical offense requires getting men forward. Avilés Hurtado is another attacking option and Maxi Meza can be another enforcer in midfield.
Aguilar – Veleazquez – Braghieri – Fuentes
Bolaños – Rivero – Rodríguez – Castillo
Bou – Nahuelpan
The Xolos sometimes identify their formation as a 4-4-1-1, but Ariel Nahuelpan is so good at tracking back and helping on defense that it is hard to label him as a lone striker. His work rate has been instrumental in strengthening the Xolos team defense. Jesús Angulo and Diego González are likely to see action in midfield in the second half as Pareja likes the team to press for 90 minutes.
Monterrey: Midfielder Carlos Rodríguez got his first invitation to a Team Mexico training camp and he has been a whirling dervish in the center of the field for Monterrey. If he can help blunt Tijuana moves into the attacking third, the Rayados will likely get the W.
Tijuana: Gustavo Bou started the season scoring timely goals for the Xolos, but has been missing in action the past several weeks. If he can rediscover his scoring touch to will make Tijuana’s pressing defense that much more effective, opening up the possibility of counter-attacking forays.
Monterrey runs the risk of a letdown after surviving a Clásico Regio last weekend and getting through to the Concacaf Champions League semifinals after Wednesday’s result. Coach Alonso must also impres on his team that the Xolos team that showed up in Pachuca last Saturday is not an accurate representation of their quality.
Tijuana must shake off last week’s disastrous showing and return to what has made this season such a turnaround from the Apertura 2018. Scoring is a must. Nahuelpan and Bou must hold their own against the physical Monterrey defense led by César Montes and Nico Sánchez.