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With just two games left in the regular season, Atlas have to win this match to keep their playoff hopes alive. Necaxa, on the other hand, don’t have anything to play for besides pride. Necaxa are the home side, so no matter how strong Atlas’ motivations are to win this game compared to Necaxa’s, this will not be an easy game for the away side. Atlas are just three points ahead of Necaxa in the league standings, so there isn’t a lot between the two sides based on their performances this season; however, Atlas’ performances have gone up a notch in recent weeks, so it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re the favorites to win.
There isn’t a significant difference in the odds for picking either side. Atlas’ recent performances haven’t been against run-of-the-mill opponents either, so it’s best to pick them heading into this match.
There’s nothing between the two sides as far as head-to-head records are concerned. Both sides have won 10 games and drawn seven of their 27 games against each other. The matches have been on the feistier side, with three red cards and 25 yellow cards handed between the two sides. They’re usually full of goals, with Necaxa scoring 40 and Atlas scoring 32.
The last meeting between the two sides occurred in October 2022. Atlas won the match 1-0, even though they underwent a terrible run of form at the time. Gaddi Aguirre’s 76th-minute strike was the difference between the two sides. Atlas weren’t necessarily the better side, with 45% possession and 11 shots compared to Necaxa’s 14, but they got the job done.
They’ll have the psychological edge heading into the tie because of their recent history; they’ve won the last four matches between the two sides.
Necaxa’s disappointing season continued with a 1-1 draw against Puebla over the weekend. Despite taking a 1-0 lead thanks to an own goal from Emmanuel Gularte in the 58th minute, Necaxa weren’t able to take advantage and let Guillermo Martinez Ayala level the score in the 70th minute.
Neither side could claim that they deserved the victory. Necaxa took 16 shots to Puebla’s 18, with Necaxa taking five shots on target and Puebla taking one. Necaxa edged the possession, but they weren’t more dangerous than Puebla when they were in possession of the ball. With two games left for the season to end, Necaxa’s playoff hopes are over; they’re seven points behind eighth-placed Curz Azul.
Necaxa have conceded just 18 goals this season; only four teams have a better defensive record than Necaxa this season, but only one team has scored less than their 15 goals this season. It’s clear as day where the problems lie, and it’s up to the recruitment team to fix this next season.
The defensive record is a genuine positive, but it’s hard to see it in that light when Necaxa are sitting in 16th place on the league table. There’s something to build on next season, but they must sort out their frontline to reach their full potential. Forwards Edgar Mendez and R.S. Monreal have not proven themselves capable of leading the line this season, but they’re not the only ones accountable; the midfield also needs to take some responsibility for not providing the forwards with enough chances.
This isn’t a new problem, either. Necaxa struggled for goals last season as well, scoring just 19 in the league. Strangely, they were in a better league position last season despite conceding far more goals.
Atlas put in another impressive late-season display by beating Apertura champions Pachuca 4-1 over the weekend. An excellent first half was key to the victory. Ozziel Herrera (9’), Julio Furch (30’), and Julian Quinones (41’) were on the scoresheet to give Atlas a 3-0 lead before the half-time whistle.
Pachuca scored two minutes into the second-half thanks to Cristian Arango, but Atlas defended well for the rest of the half. Quinones confirmed the win with his second of the night from the penalty spot in the 90th minute to give Atlas an outside shot for a playoff spot.
Atlas had 44% of the possession and took 12 shots to Pachuca’s 16, but this doesn’t tell the whole story. Atlas made an excellent start to the game, so they took their foot off the gas in the second half. Atlas have registered some impressive wins towards the end of this season, and this was another big win. The win gave them a fighting chance to qualify for the playoffs; they’re four points off of eighth-placed Cruz Azul with two games left in the regular season.
Atlas have risen from the ashes in the last month. It all started with a 4-0 Olimpa in the CONCACAF Champions League, which was followed by a 4-0 win over Puebla in the league. They then drew 3-3 against a strong Guadalajara side and have now recorded a 4-1 win over Apertura champions Pachuca.
Between all this, they lost 3-2 to the Philadelphia Union in a tight two-legged CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal match. After the loss to Philadelphia Union, there was a feeling that Atlas would have nothing to play for against Pachuca, but they came out firing, which surprised everyone.
They have two winnable fixtures next, but so much depends on how Cruz Azul do in the next two games. Most Liga MX and Atlas fans are wondering where these performances are coming. Atlas also have a healthy goal difference, so if it comes down to that, they’ll most likely make it to the playoffs. Based on form, they’re one of the best sides in the league at the moment, so no team will fancy meeting them in the playoffs.
Even if they don’t make it to the playoffs, they can take the positives from the end of this season into next season. Atlas were consecutive league champions not so long ago, and that aura is slowly coming back into the side.
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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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