Rayados are coming off an emotional match in a certain way, with head coach Víctor Manuel Vucetich having reached his 1,000th match coached at the top level in Mexico. It was everything you’d imagine, with his squad jumping on the visitors from the get-go and taking an early lead, never looking back.
After a shocking home loss to start the season against Chivas, Monterrey quickly bounced back, and after defeating Cruz Azul and Atlético de San Luis, are now going for their 3rd straight ‘W’ tonight when they visit Puebla in the Estadio Cuauhtémoc.
Puebla, on the other hand, started off with an embarrassing defeat in the house of champs Pachuca 5-1. But they since appear to have balanced things out, defeating a weak Querétaro and following that up with a big 2-2 draw on the road against América last weekend, despite being down twice. Let’s not forget this is a Puebla squad who lost key figures in their past years’ success, such as Maxi Araujo, Jordi Cortizo, Israel Reyes, and Iván Moreno. Not to mention, the loss of their head coach during that span, Nico Larcamón, who signed for León in the offseason.
It’s worth mentioning Rayados have made the trip without LB Erick Aguirre, who suffered a hamstring injury last week against San Luis, and is expected to be out for at least a couple more weeks, according to the club’s medical report. Could be more depending on how he evolves, so Vucetich will probably have to insert either Sebastián Vegas or Víctor Guzmán at CB and move Stefan Medina to RB in place of Aguirre.
Barring any last minute injuries, Puebla will be at full strength come gametime. Despite that, Vucetich and company have the edge talentwise and should come out winners on paper. The overlying issue for this match is how long it’s been since Rayados last won in Puebla, as this gritty Franja squad always find a way to complicate things for La Pandilla.
To find out when that last win came, we have to rewind a whole 6 years. It was January 8, 2017, Clausura 2017 season opener. Puebla led twice in that one, but thanks to an 86th minute PK goal from Edwin Cardona, Rayados took a late 3-2 lead and never looked back. Since then, they’ve met for 4 league matches (3 Puebla wins, 1 draw) and 1 Copa MX match (1-1 draw). It’s no doubt been a troublesome place to play for Rayados, but I expect that streak to end tonight, with a weakened Franja still adjusting to life after their offseason losses as well as a new head coach.
MATCHUP: Puebla vs. Monterrey
DATE: Friday, January 27, 2023
TIME: 5:05 pm PT | 7:05pm CT | 8:05 pm ET
VENUE: Estadio Cuauhtémoc | Puebla, Puebla
TV: US - VIX+ | Mexico - Azteca 7 (Azteca Deportes), ESPN Mexico, Star+