After a rotten start to the season which saw them lose 4 straight games in their first 5, it’s been a rather delightful turnaround for Cruz Azul and their fanbase. After their 3-1 defeat at Toluca, Raúl “El Potro” Gutiérrez was let go, and it’s almost like a switch was flicked inside the clubhouse.
Interim head coach Joaquín Moreno faced a tough initial test by visiting Puebla, and took it to them in the Cuauhtémoc for a 1-3 road win. Next, they hosted a gritty Atlas squad who they overcame thanks to a superb header late in the game by Augusto Lotti. And that was the end of Moreno’s stint in charge. ‘Tuca’ was introduced as head coach the next day and he took care of business as well by downing FC Juárez at home by a 1-0 final.
So, life is suddenly great again in La Noria after this nice 3-game winning streak, right? Well, kinda. Let me explain. This is exactly the kind of setup for an inconsistent team (like Cruz Azul), where after going on a positive streak, immediately enter a negative streak and negate the positive and are sent back to square one. Take their upcoming rivals, for instance:
- at Mazatlán (tonight)
- vs. Pumas (March 11)
- vs. Atlético de San Luis (March 18)
- at Querétaro (March 29)
The problem is these are all extremely winnable matches. After 3 straight wins, that can go to players’ heads, and upon noticing their rivals’ level, could cause them to overlook them and try to take care of themselves for the regular season’s final stretch, thinking it won’t take as much to win these games.
Now, if there’s one thing that’s characterized Ferretti’s teams, it’s the fact they never lack effort or tactical order. They may be beaten or outplayed, but it’s never do to a lack of effort on the pitch, so you can be sure he’s warned his players of this potential ditch up ahead if they offer anything less than their maximum effort. If anyone knows of a hazard like this, it’s him.
On top of that, Cruz Azul have one of the toughest schedules to close out the season; they face Pachuca, León, América, Chivas, and Santos, so they need to carve out as many points as possible during this upcoming 4-game stretch.
Cruz Azul currently sit 11th in the league table with 10 points. They should win all four matches on paper, but let’s go conservative and say they win 3 and draw 1. That would still get them to 20 points on the season with 5 games to go, and they would’ve practically locked up a repechaje spot at that point. All they’d have to do is win a game or two down the stretch and it would be a done deal. You don’t want to be forced to win most of your matches at the end when you have those types of clubs in front of you.
So, that’s just how important their remaining schedule in March is. It literally could be the make or break factor for Cruz Azul’s entire season. In other words, they must avoid the trap of overlooking their rivals. It’s exactly the type of mentality an inconsistent / losing team tends to have and it can cost La Máquina valuable points down the road, points they’ll hardly be able to make up afterward.
They’ll have a chance to keep this winning streak going tonight when they visit Rubén Omar Romano’s last-placed Mazatlán, who only have 1 point in 8 matches, and at this point are trying to avoid a historically bad season more than anything else.