A match between two group leaders headlines Round 12 action in Mexico on Saturday night, with Atlante traveling to Monterrey to take on UANL Tigres at Estadio Universitario (aka El Volcan). Tigres hold the top spot of Group 1, while a suddenly resurgent Atlante side grabbed first place in Group 2 just prior to the international break.
The biggest winners of Round 11 were undoubtedly Atlante, who with a single victory vaulted themselves from fifth to first place in the Group 2 standings. Technically they are in a three-way tie for the top spot (with San Luis and Club America), but Atlante get the advantage due to their superior goal differential. While their grip on first place may be a tenuous one, Atlante have a great chance to prove they are serious about a postseason Liguilla spot with a result against Tigres on Saturday night.
Prior to the international break, Atlante were the hottest team in the Primera. Los Potros won their last two games in dominant fashion, outscoring opponents Pachuca and Jaguares by a combined 9-1 margin. Scoring at will is not something that happens against Tigres, though. As the best defensive team in the league, Tigres have conceded only five total goals all season. Most remarkably, Tigres have allowed just one single goal in their last seven matches. The backline has been anchored by incredible play from defenders Juninho and Hugo Ayala. On Saturday night they will look to lock down Atlante striker Christian "Hobbit" Bermudez, who is tied for the league-wide scoring lead with seven goals this season. Tigres will also attempt to limit the scoring chances of Atlante’s Francisco "Kikin" Fonseca, who is coming into form with two goals scored in each of the last two matches.
While both teams need the points, the greater pressure to win may actually be on Tigres. Tigres have managed three straight disappointing draws against beatable opponents (Chivas, San Luis, Estudiantes Tecos), and the home fans will expect a better performance against Atlante. Tigres have also scored just one total goal in their past three games, and will look to get striker Hector Mancilla back on track. The team’s attack will be somewhat limited by the loss of Damian Alvarez, who will miss this match due to injury. With rivals Monterrey breathing down their necks in the standings, Tigres will need to press the action forward to ensure they get the win at home. Hopefully this means we get a more open offensive game, a style that both teams are certainly capable of playing. Whoever manages the win on Saturday night, it will go a long way. With the standings remaining amazingly tight, the battle for playoff spots looks like it will go down to the final week of the season.
UANL Tigres vs. Atlante, Saturday at 9pm est, Telemundo