TIJUANA - Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente will face long time rivals Club Leon in the Estadio Caliente on Friday night in the last regular season match of the Clausura 2014 season of LIGA Bancomer MX. Xolos have a foot and a half inside of the liguilla, but still need to seal the deal on the final match day against Leon.
Leon manager Gustavo Matosas mentioned weeks ago that the reigning Mexican league champions were no longer interested in the domestic league and would concentrate all efforts in their Copa Libertadores campaign. But the Libertadores dream is all gone now following their shocking elimination to Bolivia's Bolivar in the Round of 16.
Leon went into the second leg match in La Paz needing a win by any difference in order to advance, a 2-2 draw to send the match into overtime and possibly penalty shootout, or a 3-3 draw in order to advance.
The Mexican side took the lead early in the game off of a Franco Alizala goal, but the Bolivians tied the game before halftime. An ill timed rush of blood to the head by veteran center back and captain Rafael Marquez forced Leon to play down a player the final minutes of the match. They were not able to find the winning goal and the 1-1 draw in the night gave Bolivar the pass to the quarterfinals due to the away goal rule.
A win by Leon reserve players last weekend over Tigres has allowed the Mexican champs the opportunity to still have an outsiders chance at entering the playoffs. Leon will need the win against Tijuana at the Estadio Caliente and hope for several other matches to go in their favor.
It is hard to tell what type of Leon will appear in Tijuana on Friday night. It is a long and grueling trip from South America to the border and their confidence and fatigue level could be taking a toll on the squad. But they could also come in with the determination of winning and hoping for a miracle entrance into the playoffs to save some dignity in this semester.