The Xolos vs Atlas Liga MX match will take place at the Estadio Caliente in Tijuana on Friday, July 19, 2013 (7:30 PM Pacific). This week 1 match-up will mark the beginning of a new era in Xolos; Turco Mohammed is gone and replaced by “El Negro” Almiron. Most of the players from the previous season have remained, with the exception of Chango Moreno and Duvier Riascos. Will Almiron be able to come close to what Turco achieved?
Xolos has a strong roster that should do well enough to make it to the playoffs, however, for this opening season match against Atlas, Tijuana will be missing some key starters. Goalkeeper Cirilo Saucedo is still recovering from a preseason injury and will miss the game. Fernando Arce is also recovering from an injury and will have to sit out. Herculez Gomez left the USMNT early due to an injury as well, and will be unavailable. Lastly, Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo will also miss the game, as they are currently with the USMNT in the Gold Cup.
Overall, Tijuana will be missing 5 key players in the Xolos vs Atlas match: defense, midfield, and offense are all affected by the absences. Nonetheless, Xolos will still have a fairly strong squad with the likes of Gandolfi, Aguilar, Pellerano, Martinez, and Benedetto. Tijuana will be facing an Atlas squad that overachieved last season, and should not be too difficult to defeat, even with the current decimated state of the Tijuana roster.
The one area that Xolofans should be slightly worried about is offense. Tijuana lost Moreno and Riascos, two key players on the attack. Although, I believe Herculez Gomez is an improvement over the Argentinian striker, the gap left by Riascos might be harder to replace. Dario Benedetto was brought in from the Argentinian league to cover up that gap. Coach Almiron has already stated the young forward will make his debut in the Xolos vs Atlas match; Benedetto will be under high pressure, as the fans are expecting him to generate scoring opportunities.
Atlas had a tumultuous off-season. They lost Tomas Boy, the coach responsible for taking Atlas to the playoffs and saving them from relegation. The new head coach, Omar Asad, is untested in the Mexican league. Furthermore, Atlas is facing serious financial issues, adding additional pressure to the Guadalajara based team.
To summarize the situation for Atlas: new, untested coach, financial problems, an unhappy Omar Bravo (remember, he tried to go to Chivas during the summer break), and no new additions to the roster. I am certain Atlas will be unable to even come close to last season’s success. Expect Atlas to end up in the 13-16 spots in the standings by the end of the season. It will all start with a loss against Xolos.
Xolos vs Atlas 2013 Prediction
The Xolos vs Atlas match will have a low scoreline, both teams have a good defense, and Atlas’ offense will likely be quite poor. Look for Xolos to dominate possession, while Fidel Martinez and Benedetto try to create attacking opportunities through the flanks. Atlas will focus on defending and counterattacking.
The Xolos vs Atlas Liga MX Week 1 match will end in a 1-0 win for Tijuana, which will begin its journey towards the playoffs. Although the scoreline will be close, I predict Xolos will be the superior team, by a wide margin. Once the team is back 100%, Xolos will be a force to reckon with.
Xolos vs Atlas Television
The Xolos vs Atlas match will be televised on Azteca America this Friday, July 19, 2013 at 7:30 PM Pacific.