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This is one of the hardest quarterfinal ties to predict. Atlas ended the season in ninth place, but this doesn’t reflect how good they’ve been in recent matches. Guadalajara also ended the season strongly, finishing in third place on the league standings.
Atlas are playing this tie at home, so the odds have Atlas as the favorites for this particular leg. Over the two legs, Guadalajara have a pretty good shot of entering the semifinals, but it’s best to go with a Atlas win in this leg. The odds are also rewarding enough to go with Atlas.
Guadalajara have lost just three games all season, and even though they looked shaky when the two sides met earlier in the season, they got something out of the game. Atlas, as mentioned earlier, are in good form but still a bit unpredictable. On some days, they look like the team that won the league not so long ago, and on other days, they look like the side that finished in 17th place last season.
Guadalajara have got a far superior head-to-head record. They’ve won 14 of the 28 matches between the two sides, whereas Atlas have won just six matches. The eight other matches have ended in a draw, including the 3-3 draw last month.
The match was one of the most exciting games of the season. The first-half was electric and included four goals. Guadalajara made a fiery start with goals from Roberto Alvarado (4’) and Carlos Ernesto Cisneros (31’).
Atlas, however, opened their account just two minutes later thanks to Carlos Quinones, and Ozziel Herrera leveled the scores just before the half-time whistle. There was no change in approach in the second-half – both teams were looking to score more goals. Alexis Vega put Guadalajara up 3-2 in the 55th minute, and Quinones got his second of the day just two minutes later.
Both sides looked for the winner, but the match ended 3-3. Atlas, surprisingly, had 58% of the possession. Both sides had 11 shots on target, with Atlas getting 21 shots on goal to Guadalajara’s 20. The upcoming game is unlikely to be as free-flowing since there’s a lot more at stake.
Guadalajara ended their league campaign with a 4-1 demolition of last-placed Mazatlan. It was a dominant performance from start to finish. Victor Guzman got them off the mark in the 12th minute, and Alexis Vega made it 2-0 nine minutes later.
Mazatlan opened their account thanks to Andres Montala in the 23rd minute but didn’t offer a significant threat for the rest of the match. The first-half ended 2-1 to Guadalajara.
Fernando Beltran’s 56th-minute strike made it 3-1, and Isaac Brizuela added another to make it 4-1. Guadalajara looked unfazed for most of the game; it was one of their most comfortable games all season and the perfect preparation for the playoffs. The match against Atlas on the weekend will be far more challenging.
Guadalajara had an underwhelming campaign last season with just five wins, ending the league in ninth position. A club with Guadalajara’s history in the competition aren’t allowed to have seasons like that. They are 12-time league champions, and the expectation at the end of the season will always be silverware.
This season, they’ve played a lot more like their teams from the past, and manager Veljko Paunović deserves a lot of credit for taking the team to third place, but he’ll know that Guadalajara aren’t judged on what they do in the league. If they don’t win this match, the media will again paint it as a crisis.
Guadalajara’s defense has been crucial to their improvement this year, and it’ll be key against an Atlas side that have scored 27 goals this season. They can’t be as open as they were when they last faced Atlas; otherwise, all the goodwill in recent weeks will be lost within seconds.
Atlas vs Cruz Azul was the most exciting round of playoff matches last week, and Atlas came out on top with a 1-0 victory. This was previewed as a match between two evenly matched sides, and that’s how it played out.
Brian Lozano gave Atlas the lead two minutes in, but the team didn’t attack from then on. In fact, they parked the bus and did it successfully. Atlas have been quite good going forward this season, so it was a surprise to see them sit back for most of the game. They just had 26% of the possession and allowed Cruz Azul to take 17 shots on goal. However, most of these shots weren’t greatly threatening, as only four were on target.
Atlas’ tactical flexibility in this game was the most impressive aspect of their performance, and it’s undoubtedly something Guadalajara will have to watch out for.
Atlas’ resurgence in recent months has been one of the stories of the season. Atlas’ playoff win against Cruz Azul was among the many impressive results in recent times for the 2022 Clausura champions. They’ve looked like a different outfit to the one that started the season since a 4-0 win against Olimpia in the CONCACAF Champions League. Besides that victory, they’ve put four past Puebla and Pachuca, three past Necaxa, and held their own against Guadalajara.
A little over a month ago, no one would've had Atlas even entering the playoffs, never mind drawing this match. Things change quickly in soccer, and Atlas look like they could beat anyone now. They don’t look as strong as the side from over a year ago, but they’ll give Guadalajara a tough game, that’s for sure.
It’ll also be fascinating to see how they approach this leg and if they go for a more defensive approach in the away leg. Their ability to switch things up is ideal for something like the playoffs.
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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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