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With five games to go, there is no room for error. A win for one side in this encounter could drop the other out of the playoff qualification zone if other teams capitalize on the outcome. Both teams could drop out of the zone if the game ends in a draw.
The hosts will be eager to end their long winless streak, while the visitors will be looking for their third win in four games to consolidate their position in the playoff race. The desperation to remain in the playoff spots is evident for both sides.
The defense has been a matter of concern for Club Puebla and if FC Juarez can capitalize on that vulnerability, they have a very good chance to put their winless streak to rest.
There is not a lot of history between these two sides as they have only faced each other on six occasions in Liga MX. Half of those encounters were won by Club Puebla. Two ended in draws, while FC Juarez have only beaten their next opponents once in six attempts.
Both the draws in this fixture have come recently. In the 2022 Apertura season, Club Puebla and FC Juarez settled for a point after a 2-2 draw. Before that, in the 2022 Clausura season, spoils were shared after a 1-1 draw.
FC Juarez’s only win against Club Puebla came in the 2020 Guard1anes Apertura season when Dario Lezcano scored the only goal of the match. At the Estadio Benito Juarez, the two sides have met only twice. Both have won once and will be looking to inch ahead in the next game.
As things stand, FC Juarez and their next opponents, Club Puebla, are in the playoff qualification zone with 13 points. One point behind them, Atlas FC occupy the final playoff spot. There are three teams behind Atlast FC who are all on 12 points but only behind on goal difference.
With only five games to go, the race for playoff qualification is expected to intensify over the next few weeks and to survive, FC Juarez will have to end their dreaded six-game winless streak that started over a month ago.
During this winless streak, FC Juarez have drawn four games and lost two. The back-to-back losses against Cruz Azul and CF Monterrey are sandwiched by two back-to-back draws. A win against Club Puebla could change the entire complexion of FC Juarez’s season.
Ending a winless streak without one of the strongest arrows in the quiver will not be easy for FC Juarez. Earlier this month, Jesus Alberto Duenas suffered a hamstring injury and has been ruled out for a lengthy period.
The 34-year-old has been instrumental in FC Juarez’s midfield and has provided three assists this season. He also got on the scoresheet in the second game of the season, after which his consistency in the middle third has helped FC Juarez create several chances.
FC Juarez will have to find a solution to cope with the absence of Duenas. They still have Jordan Sierra and Javier Salas to play in the midfield, and the duo has featured in the last two matches and have been solid in the middle third.
To deal with the absence of Duenas, coach Hernan Cristante has tweaked his formation. However, this is not the first time he has done that. In the last five games, FC Juarez have played four different formations.
In the goalless draw against Club Leon, Cristante deployed a 4-4-2. In the next match against Cruz Azul, he switched to a 4-5-1 and then deployed a 4-2-1-3 against CF Monterrey. Against Club Necaxa, FC Juarez played a 4-4-1-1 before reverting to a 4-4-2 against Queretaro FC.
These changes to the team's shape every week could be a contributing factor to FC Juarez’s poor recent form. Cristante will have to find one system that suits most of his players and deploy that without making too many changes.
At the end of the 2022 Apertura season, Club Puebla finished eighth with 22 points. They scored 25 goals in that season and conceded 23 in the process. This season, after 12 games, Club Puebla are nine points off their Apertura points total.
In addition to that, the club has also conceded three more goals and there are still five games to go. Amongst the teams currently occupying the playoff spots, Club Puebla have the second-worst defensive record.
A leaky defense could prove costly at this point of the season and could be something that FC Juarez look at when they roll the ball around in the final third.
At home, Club Puebla have picked up nine points from six games in Liga MX this season, but on the road, they have notched just four in six games. In six away games, Club Puebla have only won once this season.
This record is similar to what they possessed in the 2022 Apertura season when they won just one out of eight away games. However, the major difference comes in the number of draws and losses. In the Apertura season, Club Puebla drew five and lost two on the road.
This season, the club has already lost four and just drawn one. After facing FC Juarez, Club Puebla will still have to play two more away games against Club Necaxa and Tigres UANL towards the end of the season.
The resurgence of Federico Mancuello has come at the right time for Club Puebla, who would have struggled gravely without the Argentine’s contribution this season. The 33-year-old has scored three and assisted five goals in 12 appearances.
The midfielder’s performances were a tad below par in the last couple of seasons. In the 2022 Apertura season, Mancuello finished with just a couple of assists. This season, he has secured a personal best tally of goal contributions and still has time to improve it.
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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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