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The Apertura ended with Pachuca defeating Toluca 8-2 on aggregate in the final. Necaxa and San Luis were never really in the running for the title. They finished in 12th and 13th place in the league, with only one point between them.
It’s always quite difficult to make predictions so early into a new season. Both sides will have had time to reflect on their Apertura reasons and will be looking to find ways to motivate themselves.
Necaxa have got a better head-to-head record against San Luis, which should give them the nod over San Luis heading into this tie. This should come as no surprise going by Necaxa’s glorious history. San Luis have to approach this tie like they have nothing to lose. The matches are usually quite high-scoring, with 2.24 goals being the average in this tie.
The last meeting between the two sides took place in August 2023. Necaxa were quite dominant on the day and won 3-0. Jahir Barazza scored a brace and Rodrigo Prieto was the other goalscorer. Necaxa will be playing at home once again, which should give them the advantage.
Necaxa qualified for the Apertura knockouts by finishing in the top 12 but didn’t go too far into the knockouts. They only had one win in their last five fixtures, which isn’t ideal either. Necaxa were quite poor defensively last season, conceding 26 goals in 17 games. They were a bit better going forward with 19 goals, but they’ll need to find a balance if they are to improve on their Apertura performances.
Milton Gimenez will also need help from his teammates. He scored five goals, with no one else in the side managing more than one goal. Despite beating San Luis at home, Necaxa didn’t really dominate their home games in the Apertura.
Necaxa have a great chance to make a statement here early in the season. They’ve faced San Luis 17 times and come out on top on 11 occasions. They need to show their authority from the start.
Necaxa are one of the giants of Mexican football. They’ve won 24 domestic championships and 2 CONCACAF championships as well. Despite having a torrid time last time out, they’re always expected to perform at a very high level. It’ll be no different heading into this season. The Clausura gives teams the opportunity to redeem themselves from a poor Apertura season.
Necaxa are always under pressure to perform, but they should embrace this. It looked like they were crumbling under the weight of expectations. Andres Lillini will be under a lot of pressure as well. He’s new to this job but the Argentine has previously shown glimpses of the manager that he can be during his time at division rivals Pumas UNAM. This will be his biggest test, however.
Necaxa have added Alexis Pena from Chivas, and Juan Dominguez and Alejandro Andrade from the Liga Expansion MX. They’ve also got the services of Damian Batallini from Liga Professional and Josecarlos van Rankin from Chivas on loan.
There have been quite a few departures as well. Luis Malagon is heading to America. Brian Garcia, Dieter Villalpando, Julio González, and Ulises Cardona on a free.
San Luis didn’t do much worse than Necaxa in the league, but they’ve rarely turned up at their best in this fixture, historically. They’ve only won four of their 17 games in this fixture and need to overcome this psychological hurdle. Necaxa weren’t even at their best last season, but they still managed to beat San Luis 3-0 when they met.
San Luis are a tough side to break down. They conceded 23 goals last season, but it didn’t make a difference because they only managed to score 15 goals at the other end. Unlike Necaxa, they’ve got a few players who hit more than one goal, but no one really stood out. Jhon Murillo and Angel Zaldivar scored three goals each, but that’s not enough for a side hoping to make it to the knockouts.
It’s imperative that they get the first goal in this game or delay Necaxa for as long as possible. The longer the game is in the balance, the better it’ll be for San Luis.
Atletico San Luis got promoted to Liga MX in 2019 and looked like they’d made a big step in the 2021-22 season when they finished in 10th place in the Clausara segment. Making it this far is a pretty special achievement, but they seem to have plateaued since entering the league.
This season is a great chance for them to really make inroads in the Liga MX. Beating a side like Necaxa in the very first match of the season could put their whole season into motion. Their aim going forward has got to be to break into the top 10. It’s all well and good to be participating in the Liga MX, but at some point, they’ve got to do more than just make the numbers.
Manager Andre Jardine comes with a big reputation. He has spent most of his coaching career in Brazil and even managed domestic giants Sao Paulo during his time in the country. He recently managed the Brazil U-20 and U-23 teams before taking up the head coach position at San Luis. The players should follow his methods without issue. Making such an appointment shows the ambitions that the club has. It’s now time for them to make that big leap.
Dieter Villalpando, David Ochoa, and Loe Bonatini have joined the club on free transfers. David Andrade has joined the club from Santos Laguna for an undisclosed fee. Angel Zaldivar, Mateo Klimowicz, and Jose Garcia have joined the club on loan.
Facundo Waller is the big departure. Abel Hernandez has left on a free, and Vladimir Moragrega has left for an undisclosed fee. Rubens Sambueza has also been released.
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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