MEXICO CITY - Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente faceoff against Cruz Azul on Wednesday night in their search for a first ever continental final. Tijuana managed a 1-0 win at home during the first leg of this match and now have to travel to Mexico City to seal the deal.
The second leg of the CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) semifinal between Cruz Azul and Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles is scheduled for Wednesday April 9th at 7:00pm local time (5:00pm pacific time) from the Estadio Azul in Mexico City. The match will be televised live in the United States on Fox Sports 2 in English as well as Univision Deportes Network in Spanish.
A controversial Crisitian Pellerano penalty kick was all that separated the two sides one week ago in the Caliente. Argentine striker drew the penalty call in the second half and countryman Pellerano converted to give the Xolos their first ever win against Cruz Azul.
Before the CCL first leg match the Mexico City giants had faced the Xoloitzcuintles on six occasions; three wins for the "Azuls" in Mexico City and three draws in Tijuana.
Two players (one for each team) that could play a key role in this match due to their absences will be Argentines Cristian Pellerano (Xolos) and Mariano Pavone (Cruz Azul); both ruled out due to injury. Cruz Azul's Argentine midfielder Christian "Chaco" Gimenez is still not fully recovered from his injury but made his re-appearance last weekend when he came in as a second half sub against Club America. Gimenez might once again see limited minutes against the Xoloitzcuinltes.
Week 14 of the Liga MX saw both of these sides get big wins, but lose one of their key starters in those matches. Cruz Azul went into the home of fellow Mexico City rivals Club America and managed a 2-1 win in the Mexico City Derby. The bad news for them was that Argentine striker Mariano Pavone fell injured in the first half and requested right away to be subbed out.
Club Tijuana got back into playoff positions by defeating second place Toluca with a 3-1 scoreline. Darío Benedetto, Javier Güemez, and Cristian Pellerano but the ball in the back of the net for the Xolos to lead the team to three important points. The bad news for Tijuana was that in the dying minutes of the match leading goalscorer and central midfield leader Cristian Pellerano fell injured on his own after chasing a long pass to the end line. The torn muscle will keep Pellerano out of the field for a significant amount of time.
The away form from Club Tijuana could be a worrying factor for this affair. They have not won a match on the road since August 20th 2013 when they defeated Club Deportivo Victoria in the group stage of this CCL; the last time they won a domestic league match was back in January 20th 2013 when they beat Pumas UNAM in Mexico City.
But despite the poor away form, the Xolos will not need to break that negative streak in order to reach the final. Any draw or any one goal loss in which they score a goal (2-1, 3-2, etc, etc.) gives the Xoloitzcuintles that pass to the championship series. A 1-0 loss will extend the match to extra time and eventually penalties.
The winner of this series will have a two-legged date with Toluca to decide who will be the kings of CONCACAF and represent the region in the next FIFA Club World Cup in December of 2014.
Find all Tijuana Xolos news in English here.
Stay connected to the Facebook and Twitter pages of SanDiegoRed for more local San Diego / Tijuana news.
email@example.com (Follow Jonny Rico on Facebook and Twitter)