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Just two weeks are left in the 2021 Clausura regular season.
While Puebla have been gaining ground under the impressive leadership of new manager Nicolas Larcamon, Pumas on the other hand, have yet to put up the headline-stealing numbers that they created in their noteworthy run last season.
Pumas are floundering, and while they’ve had difficulties with solving numerous issues, Puebla have become one of the stories of the Liga MX season.
Puebla for the win (-120)
|Puebla vs Pumas Information|
|What||Puebla vs Pumas|
|Where||Estadio Cuauhtemoc (Puebla, Mexico)|
|When||Friday, April 23rd at 8:00pm ET|
|How to Watch||TUDN|
What has happened to Pumas? Once championship finalists in the recent 2020 Apertura season, the Mexico City side have since failed to look as dominant as they once were.
A serious lack of goalscoring, early injury issues and an over-reliance on their goalkeeper has led Pumas through constant weeks in the bottom half of the league table. And even with goalscoring talisman Juan Dinenno back in the mix after recovering from an injury, that hasn’t been enough to truly wake them up from their mid-to-late season slumber.
Although they’ve now gone through a few games without a loss, that probably won’t be enough to stop a Puebla squad that are soaring past every and any expectation.
With three wins in a row in hand, Puebla has not only guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs but are also now within reach of a top-four position that would give them a pass to the second knockout round.
Which would be fully deserved.
Once an unknown name in Mexican soccer, Puebla’s Larcamon has taken the league by storm with a 5-4-1/3-4-2-1 formation that has overwhelmed countless opposition that tend to use a more predictable 4-4-2. It was undoubtedly a risk to bring on the 36-year-old manager, and regardless of his lack of Liga MX experience, he has looked brilliant in his debut season.
That said, there’s also much more to Puebla than just their youthful manager that has reawoken them. Up top, their striker has also stolen some of the spotlights.
Credit is due for Santiago Ormeño. After years of looking like a fairly average player, the striker has suddenly looked revitalized with Puebla since late last year. With excellent aerial ability, good control of the ball in the box, and also pinpoint finishing from the penalty spot, Ormeño now has nine goals for Puebla in 15 matches.
His prowess in the attack has even been enough for millions of fans to suddenly vouch for him for Mexico’s national team. And if El Tri decides to overlook the star striker? Well, it shouldn’t be much of a shock if he were to then decide to head to Peru’s national setup, for whom he is also eligible.
Also, keep in mind, Ormeño just has one fewer goal this season than the entirety of Pumas…
In defense of Dinenno, he’s done his attacking work after he returned from injury. Since coming back in late February, the Argentine has collected four goals and two assists in his last eight games.
But who else has helped him out?
No other player has scored more than one goal this season for Pumas. If we’re looking at combined goals and assists, only two names (Carlos Gutierrez and Emanuel Montejano) have had a part in more than one goal — and both only have a single goal and assist.
It’s dire news for Pumas who will likely have problems in the final third once again this Friday.
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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