Newly promoted Atletico San Luis faces its first real Liga MX test when powerful Monterrey pays them a visit.
Atletico San Luis and the Rayados of Monterrey square off Sunday afternoon at Estadio Alfonso Lastras, giving the locals their first actual taste of Liga MX football.
This is not a knock on the Pumas who took the 3 points last week to start off their season against recently promoted San Luis. But let’s face it, San Luis dominated the first half of that one and let a bunch of good opportunities slip by. Then, as things leveled out in the second half with UNAM still not getting clear chances, two huge defensive letdowns by Dionicio Escalante and Matias Catalán ended up costing San Luis a game they did not deserve to lose.
When you look at San Luis, the team doesn’t have the most spectacular lineup and they’ll likely struggle as they adjust to the new level of competition. Even considering that, they made a team like the Pumas tremble throughout the first half. This also speaks volumes about a Pumas team who ended up 15th in the standings last season, and who don’t look to have turned many things around with their meager summer signings.
So the 0-2 loss to the Pumas doesn’t serve as a real sample for the Tuneros. This weekend, however, brings their first real test. And if anything, the Rayados must watch out for the somewhat dynamic offense San Luis showed last week, showing it can attack down both flanks, even offering several great through balls up the middle.
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Current Concacaf Champions League winners and Clausura 2019 semifinalists, Monterrey lost its season opener to America by 4-2 in a battle of giants at Estadio Azteca. The Rayados should see an easier rival in their second consecutive road game to open the season.
With Rogelio Funes Mori and Avilés Hurtado each scoring goals last week, Monterrey fans should see this as a promising start, considering Hurtado’s lack of production the past year. And Funes Mori suffered during the playoffs last season after a decent Clausura 2019.
If the Rayados want to be a serious title contender, both of these guys must get in top shape and have a great season, as the offense mostly runs through them. Rodolfo Pizarro is also a key offensive contributor, but we all know there’s a decent chance that Pizarro will leave for Europe. So others must step up if and when that happens.
Owning one of the most feared offenses in the entire league, the norteños will square off with one of the teams who most desperately lack defense. The Rayados still can’t count on their newest addition, Dutch striker Vincent Janssen, who was transferred directly from Tottenham last week. If he can stay healthy (which in itself is a huge challenge), the blue and white may become genuine title favorites.
If Monterrey can keep San Luis’ offense under control and score first, both of which I believe will happen, they should have no trouble cruising to their first win of the Apertura 2019. Their chances look good against a newly promoted team still adjusting to their roster makeover and the challenges of a new league.