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Atlas will open their new Liga MX this weekend. They did not participate in the first matchday of fixtures, with their game against Leon scheduled for later next week.
San Luis, on the other hand, started their new season with a loss at home against Pachuca 2-0. That was a disappointing start for San Luis, who would have been expecting a lot more from this season after a solid start to the Apertura phase of this season.
From a skill standpoint, this could be one for the home team. Atlas have been in terrific form and momentum through the last few seasons, which will make them one of the favorites to finish in the playoffs spots again. Overall, back Atlas to open the season with a win, possibly with a handicap of -1 if you are feeling risky.
In the Apertura phase of the Liga MX, Atlas finished the regular season second on the standings, with 29 points in 17 matches. They finished with two wins in their last three matches to improve their goal difference, pipping Leon to second spot.
Atlas built their success around a sterling defense that conceded just 10 goals in 17 matches, at an average of a bit over 0.5 goals per game. That defensive tally was the joint fewest in the league, which is another indicator of this team’s strength in that area of the soccer pitch.
Not many will doubt they can replicate that success even in Clausura. They may take some time to find their feet but they only recently finished their postseason, and the additional rest will serve the team well. This is a much quicker turnaround between seasons because of the FIFA World Cup later this year.
It may come a surprise that San Luis were properly beaten in their season opener last weekend. Here is a startling stat: San Luis did not even have one shot on target in that match against Pachuca. Football is simple in that if you do not have a shot on target, you cannot score and therefore, cannot win a match.
San Luis had 47 percent of the possession, which is not too bad, but an awful pass completion percentage. In terms of passing accuracy, San Luis had just 63 percent of completed passes. They had a total of 288 passes completed. These numbers have to improve, and quickly for San Luis to have a chance.
At least defensively, San Luis were not too bad. They kept the scoreline to 0-0 for two thirds of the game but simply could not keep Nicolas Ibanez at bay thereafter as he scored twice to consign San Luis to a defeat.
Both teams are coming into the second matchday of fixtures after a 1-1 draw in their previous fixtures. Tigres UANL had to settle for a 1-1 draw in their opener on the road against Santos Laguna while Puebla were also involved in a draw, against Club America at home in the first matchday.
In terms of recent form and skill, Tigres UANL have a slight advantage, which could be the difference in a tight contest like this one. That is why our prediction for this match is for Tigres UANL to come out with a win in this contest.
It will come soon but Tigres UANL will be disappointed they do not already have a win this season. They are a solid team, capable of finding enough offensive depth to break down defenses with quality in the final third. The evidence of that is in their stats.
They had a total of 20 shots in their opening fixture, but only four of those were on target. They will want a drastic and quick improvement in that for starters. They had a ball possession rate of 58 percent in that fixture after completing 460 passes in that game.
Tigres UANL were nearly consigned to their first defeat of the season but they were lucky to have a point after Carlos Salcedo scored in the 93rd minute of the game, which provided them with a much needed boost. Overall, there is enough here to suggest that there will be sufficient momentum to register their first win of the season.
After conceding the first minute in their match against Club America, Puebla dominated the rest of the match but were simply not good enough to take away full points despite their opponents down to 10 men after a red card to Roger Martinez in the 36th minute.
Overall, Puebla had 24 shots in that match but could not generate more than three shots on target, which was not high considering they had a man advantage. Their other metrics were stellar, including a 68 percent ball possession rate. They even completed 489 passes with a passing accuracy of 85 percent.
Somehow, Puebla will need to ensure they can stay in this contest for long enough, which may be hard to do against a team like Tigres UANL. On the road, this will be a challenge but you never really know with the Liga MX. There could be an upset in store but Puebla will certainly have to find their best form and fluency.
Cruz Azul (moneyline)
Cruz Azul began this season with a strong performance in their previous match, a result that helped them continue their recent form from the Apertura. It will be a hard task to keep that discipline against an erratic Juarez team but Cruz Azul have enough strength and confidence to be able to do that.
Juarez started their Apertura with a 2-1 win against Nexaca, a result that would have filled them with plenty of confidence. Both teams will have momentum after strong starts but Cruz Azul may have just a tad more depth, at least on the offensive end.
The odds for Cruz Azul are quite attractive, which makes a bet on the home team quite a strong option for bettors. If Juarez fail to find some early momentum, this could be a long match for the away team.
Cruz Azul did not have much possession in a 2-0 win against Club Tijuana in their opener, but they still found a way to stay clutch and find the back of the net. Defensively, there were no hassles as they kept another clean sheet, an indicator of this team’s dominance on that end of the soccer pitch.
They had just eight goal attempts, out of which two ended up on target. And two in the back of the net. That is an impressive efficiency rate of 100%, which cannot be continued, of course. They will want to, however, improve on their ball possession rate, which was 43 percent against Club Tijuana in their previous game.
They completed 337 passes at a pass accuracy rate of 70 percent. These are also metrics that can be improved on, which makes this Cruz Azul team one to watch for if they can maintain their efficiency and also improve in certain areas.
Juarez managed to put up a quality win in their opening match, beating Nexaca 2-1 at home to put together a performance of real substance that will stay with them for a few more weeks. They will now need that confidence from that match against a Cruz Azul team that could be a tad superior on different ends.
Diego Rolan set up that win with goals in the second and 57th minute. Nexaca were handicapped after a red card to Luis Malagon in the 50th minute but Juarez made them pay for that. Overall, this Juarez team should not be taken lightly.
Impressively, the team managed to win despite maintaining such a low possession rate. They had just 38 percent of the ball, far below their usual standards, but still managed to stay defensively compact and close out the game against Nexaca.
Club Tijuana did not start well as they were beaten 2-0 in their season opener by Cruz Azul. They have a chance to quickly recover from that performance and put in a much better display in their second match, albeit against one of the better teams in the Liga MX.
Leon, like Atlas, will be playing their first match of the season this weekend. They did not participate in round 1 as they were afforded some additional rest after playing the final of Apertura late in December. That will give them some time to freshen up and get ready for another hot season in the Clausura.
This match should be dominated by the better team in Leon but you never really know because they may not be conditioned after a month off. Club Tijuana are no pushovers. There is also the additional reason of the more compelling option of the draw because of the higher payout. That will be another reason for the draw to be on the betting slip.
On the road against Cruz Azul is never an easy match in the Liga MX. Club Tijuana did all the right things, including maintaining the majority of ball possession, which was at 58 percent, and also had a solid 13 shots but they could not break down a strong team in their home.
That will be an area that Club Tijuana will need to improve on, and quickly. However, their accuracy metric was strong, as they maintained a pass completion rate of 80 percent, which is higher than the norm in the Liga MX. Not bad by any measure.
That will be the burning question for Leon. They were so impressive in the Apertura phase, finishing as runners-up to Atlas in a thrilling penalty finish. Leon will have to pick themselves up quickly and go again in this one, which is a quick turnaround.
They certainly can improve. In the Apertura phase, they managed 29 points in 17 matches, the same points tally as Atlas, but finished third with a lower goal difference. Still, it was not bad at all considering they scored 20 goals and conceded 14, which resulted in a lower differential than their rivals in Atlas.
They would want to improve on their average goals scored per game this season, though. An average of just over one per game might be risky if they concede close to one per match. In any case, this team can certainly challenge for Clausura as well.
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|Liga MX Information|
|Teams||Cruz Azul vs Juarez, Club Tijuana vs Leon, Atlas vs San Luis|
|Time||Saturday, January 15 at 6.00 PM EST onwards|
|How to watch||Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes|
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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