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León suffering from ‘campeonitis’?

La Fiera are suffering their worst season under Nacho Ambriz

Club Tijuana v Leon - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images

The term ‘campeonitis’ is an unofficial term that tries to describe the current champion team who has gotten off to a slow start the ensuing season, usually lagging in effort and and discipline, due to them coming off a recent championship run just a month earlier. León are the current Liga MX champs. Last Friday, they suffered their third loss of the season, tied for the most in any season since the arrival of Ambriz back in late 2018. Except now, they’re only 5 games in to the season.

After suffering an opening weekend loss in the Estadio Universitario by 0-2 to Tigres, they came back home to face their brother club, Pachuca, in a match that ended scoreless. Their next game would’ve been in Monterrey, except about half of the Rayados squad tested positive for COVID-19, postponing the match. They got their first win of the season by defeating San Luis at home 3-1, followed by two consecutive losses; 1-3 at home against Chivas and 0-2 in Tijuana last Friday.

If we go by the results, one definitely can conclude we’re looking at a typical case of ‘campeonitis’. However, football doesn’t always work that way. If we take a dive into their matches, they haven’t played half bad. The Tigres game was an ugly one for sure, but the rest have really been close and offensively speaking, they’ve created enough opportunities to have claimed all of them. It’s been a combination of slow starts and the defense that’s been lagging to start the season off, making mistakes that have conceded goals to rivals. This hadn’t occurred over the past three seasons.

On Friday it happened again, allowing a goal to Tijuana’s Mauro Manotas after just six minutes of action. But after the 30 minute mark in the first half, León took over, creating countless clear chances and just not having enough aim to score on any of them. Not to mention, the fact they were forced to play from behind the entire game. That creates added pressure and allows the other team to sit back and wait without having the need to create anything. But again, had León just been on target, this would’ve been 3 points in the bag.

It all boils down to two things; 1) They’ve got to come out of the gates firing, instead of sitting back and allowing mistakes to occur, like they have so far. Their slow, sleepy starts have put them behind early and made it tough to come back; 2) The defense has got to tighten up. Last season, they allowed just 14 goals. In just five games thus far, they’ve already conceded 8. Ambriz needs his defense back if León wish to get back in the conversation. Considering they didn’t lose any defenders over the winter other than Nacho González retiring,

I fully expect this defense to get back on track and start putting together clean sheets, along with this dangerous offense coming alive once again. Their two main issues are very fixable and boy, do they have the team to do it. In other words, judging by what we’ve seen thus far, it’s only a matter of time before this campeonitis wears off the current champs if they continue in the trend they’re headed.