Mazlatan to win (+165)
This game is going to be a little hard to call. Toluca are in sixth place on the Liga MX standings, which is a respectable place on the table by any league standard, but are in poor form at the moment. They haven’t sensed victory in five matches.
They are up against a side that have struggled for form all season in Mazatlan, who are in 12th place on the Liga MX standings. There’s an eight-point difference between the two sides as things stand. The two sides don’t really share a long history between them either, having only contested in four matches so far.
Toluca have got the better record, winning two, drawing one and losing one. All the information points towards a Toluca win but they’ve been in such poor form recently and it’s far from certain that they’ll leave Estadio de Mazatlan with anything. This has got all the makings of an upset for the home side.
The last match between the two sides had its fair share of dramatic moments from red cards to penalties back in January. Toluca came out on top with a 2-1 victory on the day. It was a highly frustrating game for Mazatlan, who had taken the lead thanks to Eduard Bellow in the 28th minute but gave it up in the 68th minute because of an Alexis Canello strike.
Five minutes later, Mazatlan’s Gonzalo Sosa was sent off. Things got worse seven minutes later when Mazatlan conceded a penalty to hand Toluca the victory. Leonardo Fernandez made no mistakes from the penalty spot.
If Mazatlan are this reckless again, they’ll give themselves no chance. They managed 11 shots, the same as Toluca, on the day and were cruising nicely before it all spiraled out of control. If they take some of the positives from that game and don’t implode on themselves, they’ll have every chance of winning the next tie.
Things couldn’t have gone worse for Mazatlan on the weekend against a Cruz Azul side that was devoid of confidence heading into the match. It was one of Mazatlan’s worst performances of the season.
They gave away a goal quite early to Gonzalo Carneiro before seeing Raúl Sandoval get sent off in the 36th minute of the tie. Angel Romero then cemented the win for Cruz Azul by notching a penalty just before the half-time.
It was a game to forget for Mazatlan, taking only three shots on goal all game. They posed no threat whatsoever and were well beaten by Cruz Azul. They can’t afford to put in another performance of the type in front of the home crowd.
Mazatlan’s confidence suddenly seems a bit fragile after the loss on the weekend. The one thing that was going for them all season was their stubborn nature and ability to churn out performances on the road.
They have certainly not been good enough at home and it’ll be playing on their minds after such an awful defeat on the weekend. They have enough about them to beat Toluca but they need to keep their heads. Like the game on the weekend, their last match against Toluca suggests a lack of composure with red cards and penalties giving the opposition a win.
Even when a club is going through a tough period, they have to make sure that teams don’t get points easily at their home ground. If Mazatlan can manage this, they should have enough to cause problems for Toluca.
With only 14 goals in the campaign so far, Mazatlan’s decent form prior to the game against Cruz Azul was never likely to continue. Most of their wins were by narrow margins. For something like this to work, Mazatlan will have to score the first goal far more often but this is hardly a strategy that any team can rely on for long periods.
A loss of the kind from the weekend was also around the corner. They need to reinvent themselves a little so that the likes of Gozalo Sosa can get on the scoresheet more often. He’s also scored four goals in this campaign so far.
Toluca haven’t been in the best of form recently after starting the season like a house on fire. Being in sixth place is better than being in the bottom half of the table but their form in recent weeks has been like that of a bottom half side.
They drew 2-2 to Pumas UNAM on the weekend and the draw should help build a base from which they can reset a little and go on a run again but they will ultimately be disappointed to have conceded a goal scored by Julio Gonzalez six minutes into the 90.
They had 62% of the possession against Pumas UNAM but the visitors looked far more likely to score with 19 shots and eight on target compared to Toluca’s 13 shots on goal and five on target. The visitors opened the scoring thanks to Juan Ignacio Dinneno but Toluca fought back to score two within 11 minutes of each other in the second half from Jean Meneses. In the end, the draw seemed like a fair result.
With seven goals and three assists so far this season, there’s no doubt regarding who Toluca’s star man has been this season. Leandro Fernandez is getting a goal contribution every 60 minutes and as long as he keeps this up, Toluca will be a threat to every defense in the league.
To be doing this from an advanced midfield position is no less impressive. He’s been one of the finest players in the Liga MX so far this season.
Goals haven’t been an issue for Toluca this season, having scored 22 of them so far but they’ve got a goal difference of just +1 because they’ve been extremely leaky at the back. The whole team needs to band together and start putting a priority on clean sheets.
If they can manage this going forward, they should have no trouble having a go against the best sides in the league, never mind the likes of Mazatlan.
|Teams||Mazatlan vs Toluca|
|Location||Estadio de Mazatlan|
|Time||Friday, September 16 at 8:00 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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