Morelia hosts Atlas and Puebla visits Necaxa as Matchday 5 kicks off with a double bill.
Matchday 5 opens with fourth-place Atlas visiting the Monarcas of Morelia.
No. That is not a misprint. The Zorros are indeed in fourth place, earning 7 points through four games, with 8 goals scored on the season.
No. That is not another misprint. Atlas actually does have 8 goals already. Last season, the Zorros did not score their first goal until Week 8 and the team did not accumulate 8 goals until scoring 4 goals in a Week 13 match against Veracruz.
But I digress.
The weekend does not offer any truly savory match-ups such as last week’s Monterrey-América contest. Perhaps the best of the lot is the Tigres-Santos game on Saturday night, although the Rayados’ visit to UNAM could also be an attractive match. It will be new Pumas coach Bruno Marion’s first game in front of the home fans.
And Matchday 5 will extend into Monday as the Chivas switched from their normal Sunday night kick-off so as not to compete with the Super Bowl. The Chivas will host Veracruz on Monday evening at 6:36 pm.
So, back to Friday night.
Atlas at Morelia
Newcomer Osvaldo Martínez and skipper Juan Pablo Vigón each have two goals to lead the Atlas attack, though the Zorros have also given up 6 goals in four matches, as keeper Pepe Hernández is still looking for his first clean sheet of the season.
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The Zorros are coming off a 2-1 home loss to the Pumas in a midweek Copa MX game (a loss that virtually knocks Atlas out of the Cup), but coach Guillermo Hoyos will be more concerned with maintaining form in the league, pushing beyond the modest aspirations the club had heading into the season.
As you might recall, Morelia slumped down the stretch of the Apertura 2018, missing out on a playoff berth. Thus far in the Clausura 2019, the Monarcas are 1-0-1 at home, losing 1-3 to Toluca in their opener and blanking Veracruz 2-0 two weeks ago.
Coach Roberto Hernández has not been able to find the ideal line-up and his team is coming off a listless 0-0 draw at Necaxa in Matchday 4.
Look for Morelia to come out pressing high up the pitch and trying to force Atlas into some early errors. The Monarcas are desperate for a win (they can’t afford to drop too many points at home), while Atlas will hope to remain unbeaten on the road.
Necaxa at Puebla
The new-look Rayos find themselves in fifth place after a 2-1-0 start (their opener against América was postponed until March). Their last home game saw them defeat the Pumas 2-1 and coach Guillermo Vázquez will feel obliged to grab all 3 points against an eminently beatable Puebla side.
Puebla comes into Estadio Victoria with 5 points from a 1-2-1 record that includes a surprising 1-1 draw against Santos in Week 3 and an equally surprising 1-1 tie vs Cruz Azul. However, the Camoteros have only scored 3 goals in 4 games and will likely take a conservative tactical approach, forcing the Rayos to take the initiative.
Puebla coach Enrique “Ojitos” Meza will present a patient alignment, hoping to capitalize on Necaxa turnovers, not a bad strategy considering the Rayos underwent a roster overhaul and they’re still familiarizing themselves with each other as well as with coach Vázquez’s game plan.
If Necaxa keeper Hugo González and his Puebla counterpart, Nicolás Vikonis, are on top of their games, this could be a low-scoring affair in which the first goal wins it.