Xolos of Tijuana will host Pumas UNAM on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 (10:00 PM EST) at the Estadio Caliente. This will be the very last match of Group 6, and will define if either Xolos or Merida move on to the knockout stages of the Copa MX. Can Xolos translate their success in the Liga MX to more victories in the Copa MX?
First, lets give a little recap of how the Copa MX is structured. There are seven groups with four teams each (two from the Liga MX and two from the Ascenso MX), only the winner of each group moves on to the knockout stage, along with the best second placed team in the entire competition. This will give us a total of eight teams that will move on to the knockout round.
Group 6 currently has Merida leading it after its win on Tuesday against Celaya. Merida has 12 points, Xolos 9 points, Pumas 6 points, and Celaya 5 points. Due to Merida’s victory on Tuesday, Pumas is eliminated from the competition, they can’t get enough points to win the group or become the best second placed team in the competition. A Xolos victory over Pumas would put Xolos through to the knockout round; Xolos would get four points for a win, due to being the overall winner of the home-and-away series against Pumas (they tied at C.U. 1-1, and yea, weird rule). A draw or loss would eliminate Xolos from the Copa MX and give Merida the ticket to the knockout stages.
Xolos is currently doing great in the Liga MX, finding themselves in first place with 19 points after eight matches. However, the success in the Liga MX doesn’t necessarily translate to the Copa MX, Xolos has been using an alternate squad in the Copa MX, and are likely to do so against Pumas as well (Xolos has a home match against Atlas on Friday for the Liga MX). However, the alternate squad players will give it their all, and will try to impress El Turco in order to earn a starting spot in Mexico’s top team.
Furthermore, El Turco has been known to sub in his star players if the score requires it. Against Pumas, Turco subbed in Arce and Riascos, two undisputed starters and leaders of the squad. Turco will want to continue his team’s overall success, and although he will start an alternate squad, expect him to sub in star players if Xolos hasn’t assured a win.
Pumas is just getting used to their new coach, Mario “el capello” Carrillo, and had a very disappointing loss last weekend against San Luis (a pretty bad debut for Carrillo). Furthermore, Pumas is completely eliminated from the Copa MX, a win at Xolos would be nothing more than a consolation prize, as they are mathematically incapable of moving on to the next round. This doesn’t mean the alternate players Carrillo puts on the field won’t try their best. These guys know they have the chance to impress the new coach and earn a starting spot in the main squad.
Prediction: I believe that winning is infectious, and the Xolos alternate squad will want to continue the overall excellent season this team has had so far. El Turco will also want to win, given how close they are to assuring a spot in the final round. Pumas will try and impress their new coach, but in the end Xolos seal the deal and get the win and a ticket to the final round. The score will be Xolos 2 – Pumas 0.
Television: The Xolos of Tijuana vs Pumas UNAM match will be televised on Wednesday, September 19, 2012 (10:00 PM EST) on ESPN 3 and ESPN Deportes.
Note: A Xolos victory doesn’t necessarily eliminate Merida, depending on Wednesday’s other scores, Merida could end up being the best second placed team.