Last season was a bit of a struggle for Puebla. The club began the year with high expectations, but things quickly fell apart both on and off the field. A highly publicized tax debt provided an unneeded distraction, while a five-game midseason losing streak led to the resignation of manager Juan Carlos Osorio. The silver lining on the season, though, was the big step forward taken by the team following the coaching change. New manager Daniel Roberto Bartolotta led Puebla to a respectable three wins and only one loss over the final six games of the season (capturing 11 of 18 possible points at the helm). The team seemed to be finally hitting its stride as the season came to a close, which bodes well for the new campaign. The solid finish was also good enough to reward Uruguayan manager Bartolotta with having the "interim" tag removed from his title.
Bartolotta now looks to build on this success in the upcoming season, although this time around he'll have to make do without several key players. The team’s leading scorer, the talented Spanish attacking midfielder Luis Garcia, has moved on to Pumas. Also gone are Lucas Silva and Luis Angel Landin. Together, these three players provided 11 of Puebla’s 19 total goals during the 2012 Clausura. For a team already struggling with consistent scoring, these are monumental losses.
Fortunately, club management made several shrewd moves in the offseason transfer market to fill the void. A big helping hand comes in the form of two Argentinians named Matias – forward Matias Alustiza and midfielder Matias Abelairas. Up front, Puebla also adds Isaac Romo (from Queretaro) and Edison Toloza (from Morelia), as well as midfielders Jorge Kalu Gastelum (from Morelia) and young Diego de Buen (from Pumas). On the defensive end, Paraguayan Herminio Miranda is added to the backline.
When added to remaining talent such as DaMarcus Beasley and Roberto Juarez, this glut of newcomers gives the team lots of flexibility in the midfield and up front. Looking at the roster there is no reason to doubt that Puebla can easily improve on last season’s meager total of five wins.
Shoes to Fill
Luis Garcia -- Last season's top scorer for Puebla (with 6 goals) has moved on. It's a big loss for the Puebla attack, but luckily it looks like help is on the way.
Matias Alustiza -- The Argentinian forward brings a highly impressive scoring pedigree with him from South America. Playing for Deportivo Quito, Alustiza tied with Neymar as the top scorer of the 2012 Copa Libertadores.
Fringes of Liguilla -- If the new squad can gel quickly, Puebla has the ability to make a run at the top eight. This team certainly has the talent to improve on last season's five wins and 12th place finish. Look for a top ten finish with an outside chance of grabbing the last postseason berth.