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Odds taken from bet365.
Atlanta United will hold the edge at home in the upcoming Leagues Cup fixture against Cruz Azul. In their last few outings, both clubs have registered similar fortunes in their respective domestic leagues before heading to the Leagues Cup. Cruz Azul have lost their last three fixtures in Liga MX, while Atlanta United have failed to win in their last two 2023 Major League Soccer matches.
In their last Liga MX outing against Atlas, Cruz Azul head coach Ricardo Ferretti opted for a 4-2-3-1 formation. Argentine forward Augusto Lotti was the lone forward, while Carlos Rotondi, Moises, and Christian Tabo featured in the advanced position of the midfield.
Ferretti chose Erik Lira and Kevin Castano as the holding midfielders. Ignacio Rivero, Alan Imanol Zubiri Silva, Carlos Salcedo, and Luis Mario Iturbide Vazquez formed the four-man defensive wall. Meanwhile, Sebastian Jurado was in the goals once again for Cruz Azul.
Atlas scored via Eduardo Aguirre in the fifth minute, while Aldo Rocha added a second in the 72nd. Cruz Azul found it challenging to restore parity despite firing ten shots at goal. Meanwhile, Atlanta United lost their last 2023 MLS fixture to Orlando City by a slender one-goal margin.
Atlanta United coach Gonzalo Pineda opted for an attacking 3-4-2-1 formation in the fixture. Caleb Wiley opened the scoring for Atlanta United in the 22nd minute, while the visitors struck back through Antonio Carlos (25’) and Duncan McGuire (60’) on either side of the half.
Both clubs feature in different top-division leagues, so they have not shared a well-known rivalry. However, Cruz Azul and Atlanta United faced off last time in a club-friendly February 2023. The fixture ended in a 3-3 draw.
Cruz Azul are in a do-or-die situation in the Leagues Cup. If they fail to secure a win over Atlanta United, the club will be dumped out of the competition. That would also mean that Cruz Azul's head coach, Ferretti, could lose his job. According to media reports, the club has made sanctions against the head coach.
Although the challenge is massive for the coach, he has been handed a boost in the form of defender Willer Ditta. The Colombian missed the Leagues Cup opener due to visa-related problems.
Ferretti's men will need to secure a win in regulation time or through a penalty shootout to qualify as the second-placed team from Group J behind Inter Miami. If the match ends in a draw, the penalty shootout winner will get an extra point to go through to the next stage of the Leagues Cup.
Cruz Azul will be in a testing situation in their upcoming fixture on Saturday. The club won the first edition of the Leagues Cup but has failed to find a winner in their last two matches. In their last Leagues Cup fixture against Inter Miami, coach Ferretti relied on a 4-2-3-1 formation.
Robert Taylor opened the scoring for Inter Miami in the 44th minute, while Uriel Antunal netted the equalizer in the 65th minute. New recruit Lionel Messi scored the winner for Inter Miami in injury time and dashed all the hopes for the Mexican outfit.
The Ferretti-managed side also failed to find the winner in their last Liga MX fixture after Uruguayan midfielder Ignacio Rivero opened the scoring in the 45th minute. But the home side, Club Tijuana, equalized through Carlos Gonzales in the 57th minute, and an own goal from Diber Armando Cambindo Abonia in the injury time saw them drop points.
The Mexican unit plays with more variety and intensity in comparison to the Pineda-managed side. Cruz Azul features a mix of one-touch combinations, plays from the back with intensity and variety, uses long passes to perfection, and offers a lot of surprises through their inter-changeable and rotational passes.
The club usually maintains a diamond shape and forms a build-up play. As the game progresses, the full-backs look to attack wide through the wings and offer crosses to the box. Match-specific tactics will be key as they look to halt a strong MLS side.
In their opening Leagues Cup fixture, Atlanta United failed to find the back of the net against a formidable opponent. The club, however, will be banking on their talismanic duo of Georgios Giakoumakis and Thiago Almada to help them secure all three points to qualify for the next round.
Greek forward Giakoumakis has registered a fine run in the 2023 MLS season. He has made 17 appearances in the league and scored ten goals. The Greek is only three goals behind the leading goal scorer of this season and is chasing the golden boot.
His Argentine compatriot and midfielder Almada has also been in fine touch this season. He has netted eight times in 21 appearances while providing ten assists to the side. The 22-year-old is the second-highest assist provider in the league, only behind the leader Carles Gil, who has 12 assists to his name.
Alongside the talismanic duo, American defender Brooks Lennon has stunned the fans with his clinical performance in the ongoing season. Lennon has achieved a brilliant feat for a defender by assisting seven times for his club in 23 appearances of the 2023 MLS.
The American outfit is likely to opt for the three-man-at-the-back formation. Pineda has imposed a patient style of play for the club. Atlanta United builds up their play patiently and methodically opens the opposition up and splits their defense via through balls and counter-attacks.
In fact, Atlanta United relies heavily on their possession game. So much so that their average possession share of 57.1% remains among the highest in the league.
The major concern for Atlanta United has been their attack. The club lacks dynamism and creativity in the final third and, as a result, fails to make the most of its possessions and created chances.
Mobility and quick passes were also a concern for the club. Still, Almada and Giakoumakis have brought a positive intent to the club with their attacking approach from the onset of a fixture. However, only a team display will help Atlanta United scrape past the former Leagues Cup winners.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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