Saturday, December 10, 2022

Atlas seeks to be the third two-time champion in short tournaments

MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — Atlas waited more than 70 years to celebrate between his first title and his second. The wait for the third could be less than six months.

The reigning champions Los Zorros will look to make the most of their home base on Thursday night when they host Pachuca in the first leg of the Clausura tournament final in Mexico.

Just last December 13, Atlas won its first championship since the 1950-51 season and the leadership opted for the continuity of the coach and most of the squad that could now become the third team to endorse a title since the short tournaments in Mexico in 1996.

“There are two possible results in a final and we are going for one, the results, because we want to continue doing what we like and giving championships to the institution,” said Argentine defender Martín Nervo.

If he repeats the crown, Atlas would join Pumas (Clausura and Apertura 2004) and León (Apertura 2013 and Clausura 2014), who are the only ones to achieve a two-time championship in short tournaments.

“We have a very worthy rival facing us with good players and a great coaching staff, but we are calm and we want to face the final in the same way we did last tournament,” added Nervo.

Pachuca, which was the best team in the regular tournament with 38 points, aspires to win its first championship since Clausura 2016 when it beat Monterrey.

Los Tuzos, led by Uruguayan Guillermo Almada, are going for the seventh title in their history.

“A complicated final is coming because Atlas has been doing things well and has a complicated style of play,” Almada said. “We have to continue with our feet on the ground, with humility and try to face the two most important games of the year in the best way”.

Should they prevail, Pachuca would also join the list of teams that have managed to become champions after being the best in the regular tournament, something that has become more common in recent years. The last to do so was Cruz Azul just in the Clausura last year and before that León did it in the Apertura 2020.

The two teams faced each other on the fifth date of the Clausura when they drew 1-1.

The first leg is on Thursday at the Jalisco stadium and the second leg is on Sunday night at the Hidalgo stadium in Pachuca.

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