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One Liga MX quarterfinal leg down, one more to go.
With a narrow 1-0 lead, Atlas currently have the advantage over Puebla after claiming a victory earlier on Wednesday. Puebla, suddenly struggling in recent weeks, are now a shadow of their former selves.
In spite of the fact that Atlas will be making the away trip, they should be able to clinch another victory here. Puebla are beginning to slow down and hasn’t had much to offer since mid-April.
Atlas for the win (+145)
|Puebla vs Atlas Information|
|Teams||Puebla vs Atlas|
|Location||Estadio Cuauhtemoc (Puebla, Mexico)|
|Time||Saturday, May 15th at 8:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||TUDN|
In a league with as much parity as Liga MX, there’s something to be said about gaining momentum ahead of the playoffs.
A few wins are enough to propel you as dark horses for a championship, and on the flip side, a couple of worrisome performances can suddenly make a title-contender falter in the early playoff stages.
To an extent — and through a very small sample size of one match — that could be said about Puebla and Atlas.
For Puebla, who entered the playoffs as the #3 seed, it was two dull 0-0 draws to end the regular season that seemed to foreshadow their recent scoreless effort in the 1-0 defeat by Atlas.
And as for Atlas, who waltzed in as the #7 seed, it was an eye-catching 5-1 away win over Necaxa and an impressive 1-0 victory over Tigres that hinted at their path towards a good playoff run.
With that 1-0 result in hand, Atlas have three consecutive wins and have only allowed one goal during those three.
Looking ahead to Saturday, they should be able to extend that streak to four wins when you consider how Puebla have fared in their own stadium.
There’s something a bit off about Puebla playing at home.
Perhaps due to the fact that they are a counter-attacking side that don’t necessarily need possession, they’ve run into some hurdles when they are the ones that are supposed to be dictating the pace of the game.
With only three wins in nine home games in 2021, Puebla have been highly questionable at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc.
And keep in mind, Atlas just so happen to be decent in many of their latest away efforts. In fact, they’ve only lost once in their last seven away games.
It’s exciting times for Atlas manager Diego Cocca.
Once struggling with finding the right combination of players, the head coach seems to have now figured out how to piece together his roster puzzle.
Part of that solution has been a reliance on young players who have thrived in the attack. Up-and-comers like Ozziel Herrera, Jairo Torres and others have earned starting roles that have forced others onto the bench.
Which means that even if Atlas aren’t firing on all cylinders with their XI, Cocca can bring on experienced and respected options like Ignacio Malcorra, Javier Correa or Julio Furch as immediate difference-makers.
Atlas have a backup plan, and yet, they might not even need one when you look at the form that Puebla have been in…
Although credit should be given to new manager Nicolas Larcamon for making Puebla a playoff team, there is little indication that he can muster a dominant showing for them in the current knockout stage.
Through his demanding style of play that has relied on an immense amount of defensive work and lots of coverage from players on the flanks, an exhausted Puebla have suddenly gone goalless in their last three games.
And according to stats providers Statiskicks, Puebla’s xG (expected goals) tally of 0.13 in the latest loss to Cruz Azul was their lowest of the season.
Hoy el Puebla firmó su partido con menos xG generado en todo el Guard1anes 2021 [0.13] pic.twitter.com/DDLCNbWaMQ
— Statiskicks (@statiskicks) May 13, 2021
Puebla are trending downward.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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