League-leading León puts its 10-game winning streak on the line in a Matchday 14 clash at Puebla; Atlas hosts Necaxa.
Puebla hosts León to kick off Matchday 14 and the Camoteros will be trying to stop the Esmeraldas from making history. Last week, León matched the all-time record for most consecutive wins set by Cruz Azul during the 1971-72 season. A win over José Luis Sánchez Solá’s Puebla side will give Ignacio Ambriz and his players claim to being one of the best team’s in regular season history.
Following that match at Estadio Cuauhtémoc, Necaxa visits Atlas eager to continue its unanticipated playoff push while the host Zorros will be trying to forge a 2-game winning streak for only the second time this season.
León at Puebla
Although the Camoteros would like nothing better than to be the team that ends León’s record-tying winning streak, they have their eyes on the playoffs rather than being spoilers. Puebla sits in 9th place, just a point out of 8th, with four games remaining.
Striker Lucas Cavallini told reporters Puebla wants to do both. “Obviously leading the league and having a long win streak is a plus for them,” he said Tuesday. “But we have had success and we can smell the playoffs, so we want to go right at them.”
Cavallini – the league’s 7th top scorer with 5 goals – said Puebla will try to control possession and tempo and chase the ball aggressively on defense. The Camoteros are also boosted by the return from injury of forward Matías Alustiza. “El Chavo” was missed greatly last week as Puebla managed only a 1-1 tie against lowly Morelia.
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But Puebla’s defense will be the focus of attention. The Camoteros boast the league’s third best defense, giving up 12 goals in 13 games and they’ll be facing the best offense in Liga MX. León has scored 30 goals and feature top scorer Angel Mena (11 goals) alongside 19-year-old José Juan Macías, who leads all Mexicans with 6 goals.
León captain Luis Montes is the playmaker who ignites the Esmeraldas offense with his vision and passing. It will be up to veteran Jesús Zavala and Pablo González to slow down Montes and prevent León from swiftly transitioning into attack.
At the back, rugged Daniel Arreola and Néstor Vidrio will have their hands full, while Puebla goalie Nicolás Vikonis will have to be on his toes throughout the match.
The Esmeraldas have given up the fewest goals in the league through 13 games, so Puebla has more to do than simply stop León from scoring. Left back William Tesillo is back after a one-game suspension so the León back line is at full strength again with Rodolfo Cota standing tall between the pipes. Right back Fernando Navarro is also a threat going forward, so Puebla’s Omar Fernández and Brayan Angulo will be busy.
León has only a 3-point lead over second place Tigres and sits comfortably atop our Power Rankings so a loss or tie will suddenly open up the race of the top playoff seed.
Necaxa at Atlas
The Rayos battled León to the wire last week before succumbing 2-1, a loss that saw them drop to 7th in the standings, but their unlikely playoff push can continue with a win at Estadio Jalisco.
Atlas is one of the league’s worst home teams, losing 4 of their 6 matches as hosts, while Necaxa is the third-best visiting team in Liga MX. The Rayos are 4-0-3 away from home.
Necaxa’s Brian Fernández still laments his missed shot late in the game at León, a sitter that could have tied the game and ended the Esmeraldas’s win streak. Still, Fernández is Necaxa’s most valuable player and joint top scorer in the league with 11 goals.
The Rayos will be determined to come away with all 3 points since their next two games are tough ones (vs Pachuca and at Monterrey). Coach Guillermo Vázquez understands that Puebla and Toluca are making late playoff pushes that could threaten Necaxa’s Liguilla dreams if they stumble. As such, the defense will be key for Necaxa and the back line must eliminate the mistakes that too often lead to easy goals for their opponents.
Atlas has had trouble scoring all season (last week in their 1-0 win against last-place Veracruz, the Zorros scored the winner in minute 89) and their defense tends to get their legs crossed. It will be interesting to see if coach Leandro Cufré decides to man-mark Necaxa’s Fernández and force other Rayos players to beat him. However, Fernández has faced double-teams a lot this season and has usually managed to find space.