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Atlas will host Pachuca at the Jalisco Stadium on Saturday. There isn’t much at stake in this tie as we head towards the closing stages of the regular season.
Atlas are the defending Clausura champions, and Pachuca are the defending Apertura champions, but the former have regressed since their Clausura win last year.
Atlas drew Juarez 1-1 in their last league outing, whereas Pachuca beat Santos Laguna 4-1.
Odds taken from Betway.
Pick: Pachuca to win. (+140)
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Atlas have got a CONCACAF Champions League second-leg quarterfinal tie in midweek – their biggest game of the season – a few days before the match against Pachuca on the weekend.
Of course, if they lose the midweek fixture to Philadelphia Union, they’ll only have league matches to look forward to for the rest of the season, but with their playoff hopes all but dead, they don’t have much to play for the rest of the league season. Pachuca, on the other hand, have the second spot on the league table to play for; a better seed will give them an easier draw in the playoffs.
Pachuca have also been the better league side this season, so it’s best to go with a safe bet on Pachuca. There isn’t much value in picking a draw, and most of the significant factors – bar the home advantage – go against an Atlas win.
The two sides have butted heads on just 10 occasions. Pachuca have won five, Atlas have won two, and three matches ended in a draw. The last meeting between the sides took place a little over a year ago, so that result isn’t likely to have a lot of influence on the outcome of this match.
Pachuca won 1-0 on the day thanks to an 87th-minute strike from Roberto de la Rosa. Atlas’ Jairo Torres, however, was sent off just before the half-time whistle, which changed the complexion of the game.
The second half was extremely one-sided, and Pachuca deserved their winner ultimately. They took 26 shots to Atlas' 13 and had 57% of the possession. They also hit five shots on target compared to Atlas’ one. Atlas were the champions when this game was played and would go on to defend their crown, which shows just how impressive Pachuca’s win was considered at the time.
Atlas 1-1 draw against Juarez was the least surprising result of last week, but the match was a real humdinger. Atlas have been in good form recently, but the match against Juarez wasn’t of great significance, with a massive CONCACAF Champions League second-leg quarterfinal tie on the horizon. This might’ve been a factor in how the match played out.
Juarez were abysmal on the day. They had two men sent off before half-time, and Julian Quinones had put Atlas ahead within the game's first six minutes. Everything was in Atlas’ favor, but they failed to get all three points.
Jesus Duenas was the first Juarez player to be sent off (37’), but Anderson Santamaria’s own goal helped Juarez level the scores. Juarez shot themselves in the foot again when Gabriel Fernandez got sent off in second-half stoppage time. Atlas had their fair share of chances to go 2-1 up; they took 17 shots to Juarez’s 10 but weren’t very clinical.
Atlas’ Brian Lozano was also sent off in the 77th minute to add to the drama. Atlas were the better side on the day, but it’d be a stretch to say they deserved the three points.
Just when it looked like Atlas were getting some form back, they served the performance against Juarez to remind everyone that they still have a long way to go. Atlas had two impressive 4-0 wins last month – reminiscent of the team that won the back-to-back league titles, but a first-leg loss to Philadelphia Union in the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal, and the 1-1 draw against Juarez over the weekend was a timely reminder of why they’re sitting in 13th place on the Liga MX table.
They’re seven points off the playoffs spots, with three more league games left this season. Their playoff hopes are all but over. They finished in 17th place in the Apertura season, so this is a slight improvement, but far from the standard expected of them now. The board must also take some blame for selling some of their important players last season and not replacing them with adequate quality.
For now, their focus will be on the big midweek game. The aim for next season has got to be playoff contention at the very least.
Pachuca returned to winning ways with a 4-1 victory over Santos Laguna over the weekend. Santos Laguna have been leaky all season, and Pachuca took full advantage of that. Cristian Arango opened the scoring in the ninth minute before Santos Laguna’s Javier Marcelo Correa leveled the scores in the 19th minute.
Pachuca took the lead in the 31st minute after Santos Laguna’s Doria put the ball into his own net. Pachuca came out flying in the second half, with Aviles Hurtado making it 3-1 two minutes into the second-half, and Israel Luna put the icing on the cake with a second-half stoppage time strike to make it 4-1.
Pachuca had 55% of the possession and took 15 shots on target compared to Santos Laguna’s 12. Pachuca were worthy winners on the day, even though they had a few scares in the second half. The win took them to fifth place on the Liga MX table. They are three points behind second-placed Toluca with three league games to go.
On the attacking front, Pachuca have had no problems this season, with 28 goals, but their defense has been a bit of a worry. They’ve conceded 19 goals in fourteen matches this season, which is far too much for a title contender. Last season, they conceded just 15 goals in the league.
Their defense was a significant factor in their championship win last season. Knockout matches are all about the smallest of margins, and it helps to have a strong defense in these tight encounters. Even in their 4-1 win against Santos Laguna, they conceded a goal, 12 shots, and seven shots on target. A better team will take advantage of this in the playoffs, so they must be wary.
Their next three fixtures in the league are all quite winnable. They play Atlas, San Luis, and Queretaro before heading to the playoffs. The aim in these games has to be three points and clean sheets.
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Teams: Atlas vs Pachuca
Location: Jalisco Stadium
Time: Saturday, April 15 at 8:10 pm ET onwards
How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo, and Fox Deportes
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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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