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This weekend’s round of fixtures marked the midway point in the Clausura 2014. With just nine games remaining until one side faces demotion to the Ascenso MX, we at Soccerly are taking the chance to introduce a new weekly column. ‘The Relegation Round-Up’ will be published every Tuesday and take a look back at the week’s biggest stories from the bottom of the league.
Liga MX Relegation Round-Up: Surprise Away Wins for Atlas & Atlante
03/04/2014
 

LIGA MX RELEGATION ROUND-UP: WEEK 9

 

This weekend’s round of fixtures marked the midway point in the Clausura 2014. With just nine games remaining until one side faces demotion to the Ascenso MX, we at Soccerly are taking the chance to introduce a new weekly column. ‘The Relegation Round-Up’ will be published every Tuesday and take a look back at the week’s biggest stories from the bottom of the league.

 

THE STORY SO FAR

 

This year’s relegation battle looks like becoming one of the closest in recent memory. Whilst Puebla appear safe, any one of Atlante, Atlas or Veracruz could yet find themselves in the Ascenso come August.

 

A tight battle looked unlikely just two months ago. While Atlas accrued a remarkable 32 points in last year’s Clausura, Atlante had a dismal 2013 and found themselves eight points adrift of "Los Zorros" and Veracruz going into the new year, with a significantly worse points-per-game coefficient than both their rivals.

 

A Round Two defeat to relegation rivals Veracruz appeared to seal their fate. Manager Ruben Israel was relieved of his duties, and most thought his replacement Pablo Marini would merely spend the following six months preparing the team for a swift return to the top flight in 2015. However, a 1-0 win over Atlas in the Argentinian’s first game in charge gave the Cancun-based side a new-found self-belief, starting a run that has seen them lose just twice in their last seven outings.

 

Veracruz had a creditable first six months back in Liga MX, ending the 2013 Apertura in 12th place with twenty points. Unfortunately for them, the aforementioned win over Atlante in early 2014 marked a high point – Los Tiburones Rojos have failed to win a single match since and are firmly rooted to the bottom of the form guide.

 

If it weren’t for their 32 points in the 2013 Clausura Atlas would probably already be playing in the Ascenso MX - the other four complete seasons that are considered on the relegation table have seen them amass just 56 points combined. Nonetheless, after failing to win any of their first seven games in 2014, back-to-back wins now means they still have a good chance of avoiding the drop.

 

Finally, it’s worth remembering that the relegation fight will not necessarily be decided on the football field. Last week’s news about Queretaro’s financial difficulties may yet see an eleventh hour reprieve for all three sides involved in the battle, with questions now being asked about Los Gallos Blancos’ continued participation in the tournament.

 

ROUND NINE ACTION

 

Round Nine saw one of the most dramatic weekends in the fight so far, as all three of the battling sides came away from difficult matches with something to show for their efforts.

 

Atlante kicked-off the weekend’s action with a trip to Morelia. After falling behind inside ten minutes thanks to Aldo Leao’s first goal of the season, few spectators would have predicted anything less than a routine home victory.

 

However, the away side worked hard were the better team for the majority of the game. After finally getting an equalizer in the 70th minute through Roberto Gutiérrez, they snatched a stoppage time winner through a well-taken Michael Arroyo free-kick. The remarkable win saw them move off the foot of the relegation table for the first time since summer 2013, though Veracruz would have to opportunity to send them back there on Saturday.

 

Friday’s early result in Morelia heaped the pressure onto Atlas in the late game, as "Los Rojinegros" faced the unenviable task of a trip to Torreón to play last season’s beaten semi-finalists Santos Laguna. The visitors fell behind thanks to an early Carlos Darwin Quintero goal, but two strikes either side of the half-hour mark by Rodrigo Millar and Maikon Souza Leite saw the away side take an unexpected lead into half-time.

 

The second half saw Santos push hard for an equalizer, yet without their talisman Oribe Peralta in the starting XI they looked short of ideas in the final third. Atlas wrapped up the win in the 85th minute through Rodrigo Millar’s second of the game, though there was still time for some late nerves when a 90th minute goal from Santos’ U-20s starlet Jose Abella reduced the deficit back to one. Ultimately, Atlas hung on for an historic 3-2 victory and their second victory in succession.

 

After unlikely wins for their two rivals on Friday, Veracruz headed into Saturday evening’s game at home to Club Tijuana in the final position in the relegation table, knowing that they needed at least a point to send Atlante back to the bottom.

 

Yet again the side battling relegation fell behind to an early goal. This time it was Xolos’ leading scorer Cristian Pellerano who put the visitors ahead. To their credit, Veracruz remained positive and continued to attack, no doubt buoyed by the knowledge that their opponents have failed to win an away game in over a year. As the game entered its final ten minutes it was Liber Quinones who made himself a hero, turning in Ángel Reyna’s corner from a tight angle to tie the game at 1-1.

 
AS IT STANDS

 

Following the weekend’s fixtures the relegation table remains tighter than ever.

 

Relegation Table – 4th March:

POSITION

TEAM

A-11

C-12

A-12

C-13

A-13

C-14

POINTS

GAMES

COEFFICIENT

15

Puebla

22

19

13

19

19

10

102

94

1.0851

16

Atlas

12

20

12

32

12

9

97

94

1.0319

17

Veracruz

0

0

0

0

20

6

26

26

1.0000

18

Atlante

19

16

20

13

12

12

92

94

0.9787

 

Atlante play the troubled Queretaro in Cancun in Round Ten – a win would see their coefficient jump to 1.0000 and would almost certainly lift them off the foot of the table, especially considering Veracruz travel to the resurgent Club Leon. Atlas also have an easier looking tie, playing Chiapas FC in Guadalajara. Following their recent upturn in form they will be confident of earning at least a point.

 

While Atlante remain last in the relegation table, their excellent 2014 form has lifted them to eighth place in the general table. If they can continue their impressive rate of points scoring to avoid the drop they may yet be unlikely candidates for a place in the Liguilla come May. Atlas’ win moves them to fourteenth overall and Veracruz remain last, two points adrift of Tigres UANL.

 
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