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No one wants a predictable playoff tie, but this tie looks over. Club America have won the away leg 3-1 and they’ll almost certainly get the job done in the second leg at home. San Luis have done well to get this far into the tournament. Their playoff win against Leon will be celebrated for a long time, but this looks like the end of the road for them.
Club America are a really safe pick, so there isn’t a lot of value on offer. It’s best to look at the other quarterfinal matches for value. Club America should win this tie quite comfortably.
Club America have got a far superior head-to-head record. The first-leg win was their 12th in 20 matches. San Luis have won just five times, and three other matches ended in a draw. Club America have been fairly comfortable in recent matches against San Luis; they’ve won four of the last five. Their last loss came in February last year. San Luis won 3-2 on the day; if they win by that scoreline in the upcoming match, they still won’t go through. This shows how the odds are stacked against them in the second-leg quarterfinals at the Azteca.
Club America made a rocking start last week. Jonathan Rodriguez scored in the 10th minute and Diego Valdes Contreras made it 2-0 just 10 minutes later. Leo Bonatini got one back for San Luis in the 24th minute, but Leonardo Suarez took the game away from them by putting the ball in the back of the net in the 35th minute to make it 3-1.
Club America were incredible in the first-half; it was a reminder to the rest of the Liga MX teams that they’re serious contenders for the title. It wasn’t all good news, however. Israel Reyes was sent off in the 83rd minute, which led to a late onslaught from San Luis, but didn’t lead to a goal.
Club America were worthy winners on the day. Half the job was done in the first-half. They took 20 shots to San Luis’ 14. They took their foot off the gas in the second-half and had to manage with just 47% of the possession. The possession stats also got skewed a little because of the red card towards the end, but there was no doubt as to who was in control of that tie for most of the game.
Club America were a bit shaky at the start of the season but ended the season in excellent shape. They finished second on the league table but have lost just one game all season. Many of their seven draws also came earlier in the season, so one could argue that they’re currently the most in-form team in the league.
Since their last Liga MX title in 2018, they’ve gone into most seasons as the favorites but have not won the title. This was also the case in the Apertura season before they got knocked out by Toluca. The pressure seems to have lessened this season after Monterrey took the league apart.
So much so that when the two sides met, Monterrey were expected to win by most fans and the media, but Club America showed what they’re capable of and ended the season strongly. They also lead the league when it comes to the goal-scorer table with 36 goals.
They’ve set such high standards in the last few league seasons that losing just one match and not leading the table was considered underwhelming. They made easy work of San Luis last week, who knocked out Leon a few days earlier.
Of course, the tie isn’t over yet, but Club America have got one foot into the next round. They still have to get the job done in the second leg, but that should be no problem as they’re the home side.
Forward Henry Martin has been the star of the show with 27 goals and 11 assists in all 39 league games this season. He’s arguably the best player in the Liga MX. With him on the side, Club America will always be a threat going forward.
As they get closer to the final stages of the competition, the pressure will increase, but there’s a feeling that this might really be their season. The energy around the club has changed since the win against Monterrey.
No one expected San Luis to qualify for the semifinals before the first leg, and no one’s expecting them to win the second leg. It will take a miracle for them to win by a margin of three goals at the Azteca. They can go into this tie with nothing to lose. The fans will be pleased if they compete for every ball until the last minute and do little else.
San Luis didn’t qualify for the playoffs in the Apertura, so qualifying for the playoffs was a success. Beating a top side like Leon and entering the quarterfinals is a massive overachievement, and the manager, André Jardine, deserves a lot of praise. The manner of the win over Leon was just as impressive – scoring three goals against a team that was in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal is mightily impressive.
Leon, of course, were coming into the game with low spirits after a highly disappointing loss in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinals, but that shouldn’t take away from how impressive San Luis were on the day.
They didn’t make it easy for Club America in the first leg either. They had a greater share of possession, took 14 shots, and scored a goal. They didn’t have the clinical edge, which has been a problem all season, but showed a lot of spirit.
The aim for next season has to be beefing up the forward line. They conceded just 21 goals in the league but scored just 16. If they can get some quality upfront next season and hold onto the other players, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t finish in the top 10 or higher next season.
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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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