In theory, during most other weekends, this has a Cruz Azul win written all over it. As the most in-form and commanding team of the 2021 Clausura season, they’ve only managed to lose two out of their 16 games so far.
And yet, with a place already set in not only the playoffs but also the second round, will Cruz Azul play at full force on Saturday? Taking this a deep further, will all of their starters even be on the field when this result has no impact in their final position?
While Cruz Azul can treat this game like a friendly, Club Tijuana on the other hand, should be raring to go in what could be a vital encounter for most of their players.
Tijuana need this result much more than Cruz Azul.
Tijuana for the win (+270)
|Cruz Azul vs Club Tijuana Information|
|What||Cruz Azul vs Club Tijuana|
|Where||Estadio Azteca (Mexico City, Mexico)|
|When||Saturday, May 1st at 8:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
Let’s revisit what we said earlier about Cruz Azul.
With a whopping total of 40 points and a five-point cushion over 2nd place in the league table, Cruz Azul will officially finish this weekend as the #1 seed in the Liga MX playoffs. With a place in the top four, they also have an immediate bye into the quarterfinals, along with spots #2-#4.
So in short: No matter what happens this weekend, Cruz Azul will remain as the #1 seed.
It’s a nice position to be in, and with a focus now set on the playoffs, it would almost be shocking to see manager Juan Reynoso field his best XI on the field. And even if he does, there should be little motivation to potentially injure themselves or put themselves out of contention for next week’s Concacaf Champions League quarterfinal 2nd leg against Toronto FC.
Cruz Azul can essentially take the weekend off, but the same can’t be said for Tijuana…
It isn’t atypical to see players pick up their pace or efforts when a new manager is appointed. Eager to win them over, individuals who lack energy or zeal suddenly perk up when they know that a spot in the roster is on the line.
That’s what happened last week to Tijuana. In the first game under new manager Robert Dante Siboldi, the club looked inspired as they battled their way to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Necaxa. With more possession and shots on target, Tijuana looked like a very different side than the one that had lost their three previous games.
Keeping in mind that the organization also has a tendency to quickly turn over the roster, this Saturday’s match may not only be a fight to gain Siboldi’s attention, but also an audition for a spot altogether in the team before the summer transfer window.
Cruz Azul may not have much else to do in Liga MX, but in the CCL, they’re still in the middle of a knockout round series against Toronto. With a 3-1 lead after the first quarterfinal leg, Cruz Azul will now host the MLS side on Tuesday, May 4th for the second leg. That’s just three days after their match against Tijuana.
There’s no reason why Cruz Azul should prioritize this weekend’s match over next Tuesday’s knockout round in an international competition. In spite of the CCL’s lack of significance for many teams, another good result against Toronto — and perhaps a CCL title down the line — would gift them a spot in the next Club World Cup.
Realistically speaking, Tijuana need a few things to go right in order to qualify for one of the top 12 spots that would clinch a place in the playoffs. Sitting at 14th place (at time of writing), they’ll have to keep their fingers crossed that at least a couple of teams ahead of them slip up in the final weekend.
And that’s not entirely impossible.
With only a three-point difference separating 14th place Tijuana and 7th place Toluca, there is a near chaotic amount of changes that could happen in the league table this weekend. With that idea in the back of their heads, and with a need to win over management, look towards Tijuana for getting upset.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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