Over the past two months, Atlas has been among the worst clubs in Mexico. After bringing in a new manager, can they turn around their season with a crucial victory against Santos? Or will the side from Torreon finally play up to their potential and get a rare away victory? Where can bettors find value in this Friday night match?
Any preview discussing Atlas must begin with the losing streak the club is currently on. When Los Zorros step on the field Friday evening, it will be a full 61 days since they won a league match.
During the seven-match losing streak in all competitions, Atlas has scored just twice while conceding 13 goals against. Atlas has a poor recent history of weak offensive production. In the Apertura, they failed to score in the opening eight matches of the tournament.
During the past seven matches, Atlas has generated just 24 shots on target.
Most analysts will point to the lack of offence being the issue, but the defence is where the struggles occur. The 20 goals conceded and 1.60 expected goals against per match rank third to only Queretaro and Veracruz who have just four of 33 possible points this season.
On March 10th, the club removed Angel Hoyos from his position as Manager and brought Leandro Cufre just two days later.
This is the first manager position for Cufre who is only 40 years old and served as an assistant for Cruz Azul and Santos Laguna in the previous two seasons. Unfortunately, the team still is without any true offensive playmaker.
The majority of the offensive output this season has come from Osvaldo Martinez and Jesus Isijara who are both midfielders. Uruguayan attacker Facundo Barcelo has scored just two times this season (one less than both Martinez and Isijara) and averages just 2.3 shots per match.
Under Performing Talent
The curious case of Santos Laguna continued in Week 10 with an usual home loss to Necaxa. Los Guerreros have one of the most talented roster in Liga MX featuring the likes of Julio Furch, Javier Correra, Ayrton Preciado, Diego Valdes and Brian Lozano.
In a grading perspective, Santos Laguna sits behind only America, Monterrey, Tigres and Leon yet, in the standings Santos is 10th and two points out of the playoffs. In goal expectancy, Santos is fifth in xG and above average in xGA.
The only thing keeping Santos Laguna from being one of the top performing clubs in Mexico is the balance of Liga MX and CONCACAF Champions League which results in frequent travel and lineup adjustments.
The betting market is scared to touch Santos Laguna. Manager Salvador Reyes is continuously tinkering with his lineup resulting in a mixed bag of results and inconsistent play.
Fortunately for Santos, the week off for Liga MX gave much of his squad time to rest. Despite having 10 foreign players, only Diego Valdes and Jose Vazquez were called for international play.
The rest of the squad received a much-needed week off. Another bonus for Santos is drawing fellow Liga MX side Tigres in the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday, April 3.
This is the first week since January the club does not have to make an international mid-week flight.
Home teams are winning at a historic 50% rate this Clausura. In combination with the hesitance to back Santos, the odds for an away victory are much higher than usual.
Until new manager Leandro Cufre has time to make offensive adjustments, it is difficult to make a case for a Atlas who is priced well above their talent level. Bettors should look for an edge with a rested Santos side on the Asian Handicap.