30
May

Copa Libertadores Preview: Atletico Mineiro vs. Club Tijuana

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By Kyle McCarthy

Club Tijuana coach Antonio Mohamed must produce one last miracle to conclude his tenure in style and send the Xolors through the semifinals of the Copa Libertadores.

He must devise a way to end Atlético Mineiro’s staggering record of success in Belo Horizonte.

It is not an easy brief to fulfill. Mineiro has not dropped a point at home during this calendar year. It has not lost at home during this edition of the competition. It has not suffered a home defeat since a 2-1 setback to Cruzeiro on Aug. 28, 2011.

Mineiro’s formidable home form exacerbates the problems created by Tijuana’s inability to protect a two-goal lead at Estadio Caliente a week ago. The 2-2 draw in Mexico hands Mineiro a significant advantage ahead of the second leg and means Tijuana must secure either an outright victory or a tie that includes at least three goals scored to go through at full time.

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15
May

Palmeiras vs. Club Tijuana: Xolos make history

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Photo: Nelson Almeida/AFP/Getty Images

By Kyle McCarthy

1. The fairytale continues: Tijuana played its first match less than a decade ago. It reached the Mexican first division in 2011. It won its first title in 2012. And now it has advanced to the quarterfinals of the Copa Bridgestone Libertadores by registering the fourth Mexican victory on Brazilian soil.

In stark contrast to the two other Mexican clubs – Club América and C.D. Guadalajara – to win an away match in Brazil, Tijuana operates on a relatively modest budget and relies on a small squad of players to achieve laudable results. This triumph isn’t a fluke: it is the product of a cohesive unit of dedicated and savvy operators capable of winning against any opponent in North or South America on the right day. Antonio Mohamed has worked wonders to lift this club into a quarterfinal tie against Atlético Minero.

2. Credit Tijuana’s victory to a stout defensive shape: Tijuana prefers to play a counterattacking style well suited for continental play and Mohamed astutely adhered to it for this match. The game plan – retain the necessary structure and then wait for the opportune moment to break forward with pace – made perfect sense for this tie against a Palmeiras side that had scored just five goals in seven Libertadores matches coming into this match. Mohamed and his players dared Palmeiras to carve them open and win the tie. The Brazilians tried their best to do so (particularly in the second half), but they failed to come to terms with Tijuana’s resolute line (offside time and time again), lacked the quality to score from the run of play and suffered the consequences of their defensive lapses.

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30
Apr

Copa Libertadores, Round of 16: Tijuana squanders chance vs. Palmeiras

By Kyle McCarthy

Club Tijuana managed to keep its unblemished home record in the Copa Libertadores intact with a 0-0 draw against Palmeiras on Tuesday night, but the Xolos squandered its invitation to take control of this round of 16 tie.

The home side kept its nerve for the most part and threatened occasionally after an indifferent start to the match. It did not, however, possess the sharpness required to make the best use of its advantage at Estadio Caliente.

The lack of investment in this side prior to this Libertadores campaign and the suspect form over the past few weeks told once again in the final third. Fidel Martinez lashed wide from a promising position at the top of the penalty area after 25 minutes to signal Tijuana’s improvement after a tentative opening period. Fernando Arce subsequently forced Bruno to tip his free kick over the bar, while Alfredo Moreno and Duvier Riascos both wasted good opportunities to open the scoring before the interval.

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