OPINION: Can Tijuana Xolos survive without Cristian Pellerano?

One crucial week in which everything Xolos are playing for is decided.

TIJUANA - Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente face a crucial week both in the domestic tournament as well as the international in which much of their beginning of the season goals will be decided. They head into this week without one of their most important players; Argentine midfielder Cristian Pellerano.

The Xolos travel to Mexico City where on Wednesday night they’ll face Cruz Azul in the second leg of CONCACAF Champions League semifinal. Tijuana goes into the match with a one goal advantage achieved in the Estadio Caliente during the first leg of the series thanks to a Cristian Pellerano penalty kick.

They will then have to travel to Monterrey where on Saturday night they’ll face Tigres UANL in the 15th week of the Clausura 2014 season of LIGA Bancomer MX.

These are two consecutive away matches that could ended up deciding whether the entire semester was a success or utter failure. The team’s away form is worrisome, they have not won an away match since August 20th 2013 when they beat Club Deportivo Victoria 2-3; and they haven’t won an away match in Mexico since January 20th of 2013 when they beat Pumas UNAM 0-2. Now Tijuana will face the two big away challenges without the guy who has been the foundation of the team plus the leading goal scorer with seven goals in all competitions (six in Liga MX and one in CCL).

Will Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles be able to survive without Pellerano? -- YES

Without a doubt Xolos are a much stronger team with Cristian Pellerano leading the midfield. But they do have the talent in the squad to get through this week and qualify to the CONCACAF Champions League final, as well as get the win over Tigres and make that final push to the Liga MX playoffs.

The key in surviving Pellerano’s injury will be for two guys to step up their individual performances. Yes, it is going to take two players to fill Cristian’s shoes. The Argentine midfielder is widely known for his defensive capabilities; but this season, Xolos manager Cesar Farias has exploited Pellerano’s offensive qualities. He has scored important goals as well as combined well and become that football generator for the forwards.

The two guys who will need to really step up in his absence is San Diego and Tijuana natives Joe Corona and Fernando Arce. Javier Gümez has done a good job all season long in the defensive midfield role, but going forward Arce and Corona are going to have to do more than what they have produced this season.

If those two can step up their individual game and connect good passes with red-hot forward Dario Benedetto as well as Fidel Martinez the team can continue its good run in form, and even think about killing that negative win-less streak on the road.

Joe Corona and Fernando Arce have the talent in their feet to get this job done. It is all a matter of determination from both players to cover for their injured teammate.

Find all Tijuana Xolos news in English here.

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