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We typically see major upsets at least once a week in Liga MX. In a league that is partially defined by parity and a title that is constantly up for grabs, surprises aren’t usually surprising.
That said, Puebla probably won’t be able to knock over a giant this weekend.
A handful of crucial figures should be ready to return for America, and most notably, there is also a strong possibility of a debut for the club’s next big star. As for Puebla, they’ve given some trouble to teams this season but lack the goalscoring strength to truly be a contender against the most successful club in the country.
America for the win (-130)
|Club America vs Puebla Information|
|What||Club America vs Puebla|
|Where||Estadio Azteca (Mexico City, Mexico)|
|When||Saturday, February 6th at 8:00 PM ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
Pragmatism seems to be the key to Puebla so far this season, but will it work this weekend against America?
Through low-scoring results and a five-man backline, Puebla manager Nicolas Larcamon has had no hesitations when it comes to giving up possession and sitting further back. This strategy has gifted him five points in four games, and although his team has only allowed two goals during that run, it is fair to wonder if this is sustainable for a long period of time.
Or at the very least, it’s fair to wonder if it’ll be sustainable against a group of America players that could be set on earning their first one-sided victory of the season.
It hasn’t been the most ideal start to the tenure of new America manager Santiago Solari. Heading over from Spain and from a recent stint with Real Madrid, Solari has not only dealt with immediate injuries within his roster, but also COVID-19 cases that have kept marquee figures off of his gameday roster.
He’s only lost once in his first four games, but despite this, there has been a sense that America have yet to truly show off what they are capable of.
That could change this weekend.
Early media reports have indicated that influential players like Guillermo Ochoa, Richard Sanchez, Nicolas Benedetti and Pedro Aquino could all potentially return by this weekend. If even one of these players is ready, that should be enough to knockout Puebla.
If three to four are ready? Then that might already be game over for the visitors.
Puebla should be applauded for only allowing two goals so far this season. Thanks to the tactical approach from Larcamon — and also thanks to some vital saves from Antony Silva in net — Puebla have put up some impressive defensive numbers.
But what about their attack? Therein lies a sizable problem.
Puebla have only scored twice this season, and in their last two matches, they were left without a single goal. Since the year started, only two players (Santiago Ormeño and Christian Tabo) have accumulated more than five shots in total as well. In fact, Ormeño’s and Tabo’s combined total of 13 shots is level with what Tigres’ Carlos Gonzalez has provided alone — and all within only three games.
We’re getting stuck in the numerical weeds here. In short: Puebla’s attack needs to be drastically better. And while they’re figuring that out, America could be hitting the ground running through a first appearance for one of the more illustrious Liga MX additions of the winter.
Alvaro Fidalgo’s resume speaks for itself. The midfielder was developed in Real Madrid’s academy, has had experience in Spain’s youth national team, and was once compared to Andres Iniesta. Not bad for a 23-year-old.
Now on loan from the Segunda Division’s Castellon, Fidalgo has been given a golden opportunity to showcase the immense amount of hype that is beginning to build about him in Mexico. Up against a defensive side like Puebla, Fidalgo’s pace, creativity, and vision with the ball should be a perfect weapon that Solari could utilize this weekend.
Given minutes, Fidalgo may soon make a name for himself in Liga MX.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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