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Atlas won both the Apertura and Clausura titles last season but have gotten off to a bad start this season. They will find it hard to beat Cruz Azul, a side they lost to last month in the Supercopa Liga MX. They have defeated Azul just once in the last five meetings and know that they need a win this weekend to have any chance of making a proper comeback in the league.
Last month, the Supercopa Liga MX was held, a one-off match because of commercial commitments after Atlas were automatically awarded the 2022 Campeón de Campeones title. They were up against the 2021 Campeón de Campeones champions Cruz Azul.
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Emanuel Aguilera handed Atlas the lead in the 41st minute, but they failed to go into the break ahead. Santiago Giménez equalized in injury time before Ángel Romero made it 2-1 in the 63rd minute. The match looked set to end in normal time with Cruz Azul winning, but Julián Quiñones scored in the 92nd minute to make it 2-2 and take it to the penalty shootout.
The hero for Atlas in normal time, Julián Quiñones, turned out to be the one who missed the penalty that led to their defeat. Edison Flores also missed in the shootout for Atlas, while Juan Escobar missed one for Azul.
It was a close affair in their last league meeting as well, with Cruz Azul winning 1-0 at home. Santiago Giménez scored the lone goal when the two sides met in the Clausura. However, in their last Apertura fixture, the two sides were on top of their game and did not let the other score. The match ended goalless after both sides put on a stunning defensive effort.
Despite winning both the Apertura and the Clausura last season, Atlas have gone out and improved their squad further. They have signed Julián Quiñones on a permanent deal from Tigres UNAL after he spent the previous season on loan, while Edison Flores, Mauro Manotas, and Idekel Domínguez have also arrived.
Jesús Ocejo is on a season-long loan this season, while Ozziel Herrera and Antonio Sánchez have been promoted from the U20 side. Brayan Garnica, and José Lozano have been released by the club, while Gonzalo Maroni, Franco Troyansky, and Lucas Rodríguez have left the club following the expiry of their loan deals.
While the transfers have been good, their start to the season has been off the pace. The loss to Cruz Azul in the Supercopa Liga MX was not an easy one for them to take and they seem to have not found their feet yet.
They drew with Club America in their first match of the season. They could not manage to dominate possession nor could they get the shots. Diego Martin Cocca’s men had just one shot on target in the entire game and failed to create a single big chance.
Things got worse in the second game as Toluca made a stunning start. They were 3-0 up inside the first 15 minutes of the match with goals from Leonardo Fernández, Fernando Navarro and Valber Huerta. The home side were dominating the possession and making the most of it, while the away side were finding it hard to create chances.
Jesús Ocejo scored Atlas’ first goal of the season just before the half-time whistle and that briefly meant some confidence began to show in the players. They were ready to battle hard in the second half and go for the win if possible.
They were handed a helping hand when VAR sent off Toluca’s Marcel Ruíz in the 71st minute. Up against 10 men, Atlas were knocking on the door for a long time before they got their second goal of the game. Aldo Rocha scored in the 84th minute to make it an exciting finish, but they could not get the 3rd goal and ended up losing 3-2.
Atlas managed to take 25 shots at goal, of which just eight were on target. They created nine big chances in the game, but seven of those were missed.
Mauro Manotas is injured and will miss the entire season.
Cruz Azul found themselves in an unfortunate situation in the knockout stages of the Clausura last season as they were eliminated despite drawing with Tigres UNAL. They held the Monterrey side 1-1 after the two legs in the quarterfinals but were knocked out as they had finished below them in the league standings.
To ensure a stronger position in the league this time around, Azul spent wisely in the transfer window. They have signed Carlos Rotondi while Rodrigo Huescas has been promoted from the U20 side. Rómulo Otero, Pablo Aguilar, Adrián Aldrete, and Guillermo Allison have been released, while Luis Abram and Alejandro Mayorga have returned to their parent clubs following the expiry of their loan deals.
Cruz Azul kicked off their season with an away match at Tigres UANL and got their revenge for the Clausura elimination. Rafael Baca handed them the lead in the 16th minute, but Florian Thauvin leveled things up shortly after the second half started.
Ángel Romero made it 2-1 to Azul right after the hour mark but once again they could not hold onto their lead, and Sebastián Córdova equalized in the 75th minute. Santiago Giménez kept his nerves and scored a penalty in the 93rd minute to win the game for Azul and give them a winning start to the season.
Santiago Giménez scored another injury time penalty in the second match of the season, but this time it could not rescue them any points. Pachuca were 2-0 up with goals from Gustavo Cabral and Luis Chávez in the first half. The team that finished on top of the table last Clausura season did well to hold on to their lead and defended well. They gave Cruz Azul just two shots on target, and the second one came in the 98th minute via a penalty from Giménez.
If Azul are to win this weekend, they need to ensure that they do not let in sloppy goals like they did against Atlas in the Supercopa Liga MX. They need to defend well like they did in the league meeting and keep control of the game.
No player is injured or suspended for the upcoming game.
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|Atlas vs Cruz Azul Information|
|Teams||Atlas vs Cruz Azul|
|Time||Saturday, July 16 at 5pm EST onwards|
|How to watch||Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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