Pachuca and Atlas have both been on a roll but the Tuzos have more at stake in this Matchday 16 clash.
The Tuzos have been on fire, scoring in bunches and winning 4 of their past 5. With two winnable games between here and the playoffs, Pachuca – currently sitting 8th in the standings – holds its own destiny in its hands (or feet, as the case may be). Their rivals for the final playoff spot (Morelia and Querétaro also have easy games this weekend) so a loss or a tie could wreck their season.
Atlas has also only lost once in its past 5 games while scoring 9 of its 10 goals on the season. Could the Zorros make it difficult for Rafa Márquez and company to make a coaching change after the Apertura 2018 season? Guillermo Hoyos replaced Gerardo Espinoza after Matchday 8 and the Zorros are 2-2-3 since. Not bad, considering the roster.
Pachuca: 6-2 win vs Necaxa
Víctor Guzmán scored 4 times (he now has 9 on the season) and Franco Jara netted the other two goals. Jara was in for Leo Ulloa, the Tuzos’ big signing from Leicester City. Pachuca scored on all 6 of its shots on goal and their offense has been in high gear for over a month now (with the exception of the Matchday 12 loss at Pachuca). Coach Pako Ayestarán has his club playing exciting, high-energy football at the right time.
Atlas: 0-0 draw vs León
The Zorros have been playing quality soccer for the past month, though their finishing is still lacking. Jefferson Duque up front and Andrés “El Rifle” Andrade created chances, continuing the fine form they have displayed of late. Still, Atlas could only get 1 shot on net all game. Goalie José Hernández was sharp, earning his 4th shutout of the season.
Shaggy – Barreiro – Murillo – García
Guzmán – Hernández – Martínez
Palacios – Jara – Aguirre
This has become Ayestarán’s favored line-up (with Leo Ulloa sometimes starting in place of Franco Jara) while Pablo Martínez, Víctor Guzmán and Erick Aguirre combine tactical flair with speed and awareness. Ángelo Sagal is a top sub off the bench and Chaco Giménez can provide veteran leadership for late-game situations.
Govea – González – Jiménez – Aguirre
Álvarez – Vigón – Aboagye – Andrade
Clifford Aboagye has earned playing time in the middle of the Zorros offense, working well with Andrés Andrade, but Ricky Álvarez has been slow to find comfort in Liga MX despite his experience in Serie A and the Premier League. Fullback Ismael Govea continues to show promise. Gaddi Aguirre is a likely substitute for the suspended Cristian Calderón.
Pachuca: Víctor Guzmán has scored 6 goals in his past 3 games. If he keeps it up, the 23-year-old midfielder will play a key role for El Tri at the Gold Cup next summer and could even catch the eye of European scouts.
Atlas: Jefferson Duque has claimed the top forward role for the Zorros, working hard to find space as a lone striker. He will have to capitalize on scoring chances against the potent Tuzos if Atlas is to have a chance to protect home field.
More from Atlas
- Rafael Puente Jr. officially the second coach to be sacked in the Liga MX
- Rafael Marquez starts his journey as a coach
- GNP Cup for Mexico
- Andres Guardado nears a record in Spain
- Atlas Faces Chivas in New Edition of the Clásico Tapatío
Despite their youthfulness, the Tuzos have played well while making a late-season push. They know that if they win out, they are in the Liguilla. I don’t see them blowing the opportunity even though the Zorros are no longer the pushover they were through Matchday 8.