Match: Atlas vs. FC Juárez
Date: Friday, July 19th
Time: 10:00pm Eastern, 9:00pm Central, 7:00pm Pacific, 2:00am UTC
Venue: Estadio Jalisco (Guadalajara, Jalisco)
Referees: Ref: José Alfred Peñaloza Soto, AR1: Andres Hernández Delgado, AR2: Telly Salvador Saldivar Guzman, 4th: Mario Humberto Vargas Mata
TV: United States - Univision Deportes; Mexico - Azteca 7, Fox Sports MX
There are few things more exciting as a fan of a professional sports than watching your team make its long awaited debut in the first division. For fans of FC Juárez, a wait of just over four years will come to a close as their team travels to Guadalajara to take on one of Mexico’s oldest professional sports sides in Atlas at the historic Estadio Jalisco.
It is unlikely to find two teams that are more different from one another than Atlas and FC Juárez. Los Rojinegros have over 100 years of sporting history, but just a single league title - won all the way back in 1951 - to show for it. Despite not having won a title in 68 years, Atlas have managed to garner a reputation as the “Academy of Mexican Fútbol.” Los Zorros have famously produced players like Rafa Márquez, Andrés Guardado, Jared Borgetti, Pável Pardo, and Oswaldo Sánchez, all of whom went on to represent the Mexican National Team during their careers.
FC Juárez, on the other hand, were founded in May of 2015 and in their first season managed to win a league title. Los Bravos followed their initial success up with a lackluster next season that culminated in them losing the Liga MX promotion final against Necaxa. Since then it has been a rollercoaster of emotions for FC Juárez losing two more Ascenso MX finals against Alebrijes and Lobos BUAP and then finishing in second to last place during the 2019 Clausura before purchasing Lobos to gain “promotion” to the top flight of Mexican Fútbol.
Both Atlas and FC Juárez will be coming into Friday night’s match with a great deal of uncertainty. Los Rojinegros were sold to Grupo Orlegi (owners of Santos Laguna and Tampico Madero) during the offseason and the new ownership wasted absolutely no time turning over the roster. The most notable of the players who will not be continuing at Atlas this season is Clifford Aboagye. The Ghanian midfielder, who was a fan favorite for the way that he carried himself both on and off the pitch, was sent out on a year long loan to Queretaro. Striker Jefferson Duque will also not be continuing with los Zorros after he was loaned out to a team in his native Colombia. On the flip side, Mauricio Cuero, Jesús Angulo, Hugo Nervo, and Javier Correa all joined the Guadalajara side from Santos Laguna. However, only Cuero has joined Atlas on a full time deal. The other three players have all joined Los Rojinegros on loan. Atlas also added goalkeeper Camilo Vargas from Deportivo Cali to their roster this season. Grupo Orlegi will bw hoping that their new signings can make an immediate impact to show just how serious they are about turning around the fortunes of the long suffering club from Guadalajara.
As the new kids on the block, there will be plenty of questions surrounding FC Juárez this season. The biggest of these being whether or not the borderland squad actually has the talent to compete in the Liga MX. It’s one thing to run the show in the Ascenso MX, but top flight Fútbol is an entirely different beast. To cope with this new challenge, Los Bravos signed nine new players this offseason. Of the nine new players that they signed, four are on loan from other Liga MX clubs. In total, Los Bravos will have seven players on loan from Tigres UANL this season. Much of FC Juárez’s success this season will hinge on the performance of Jefferson Intriago, Ángelo Sagal, and Dario Lezcano. If these three newcomers can manage to perform, FC Juárez will be much more than a pushover this season. Failure from these three signings to perform and FC Juárez could be looking at a very difficult season ahead.
On paper there is little doubt about who should win this match. Even with the roster turnover, Atlas looks to be a stronger side than the Liga MX debutants. Couple that with the fact that this is the first match under new ownership and we should expect to see a highly motivated Atlas playing in front of a very large home crowd. FC Juárez will need to play mistake free fútbol if they are going to take anything from this match.