The Bielsa Report is named for manager Marcelo Bielsa, and the comprehensive if legally suspect research he conducts on opposing teams.
1. Atlas FC are having a dumpster fire of a season
Atlas sit in 17th place in the 18-team Liga MX, with 10 points after 15 games played and a goal differential of -10 — they have a total of two wins. This presents a shocking turnaround from last season, when they won both the Apertura and Clausura, and were automatically named the Campeón de Campeones. Back in those heady days, the club had an aggregate record of 56 points after 34 matches played, with a goal differential of +17. What a difference a year makes.
The recent form of Atlas is particularly poor. They’ve taken six points and scored nine goals in their last 10 games — and were shown three red cards. We’ll conveniently ignore the fact that New York City FC’s run of form is comparable, with only five points and 10 goals in 10 games.
2. Head coach Diego Cocca is tactically flexible
Diego Cocca, the 50-year-old Argentine head coach of Atlas, has tinkered with the team’s lineup in his quest for results. In recent games, he set up Atlas with five in the back and a lone striker, in a four-four-two, and in a three-five-two. With no set system, it’s impossible to predict how Cocca will line up Atlas tomorrow.
3. Edison Flores isn’t quite clicking, yet
The 28-year-old attacking midfielder was a bust at DC United, and he hasn’t done much for Atlas since joining the club in June. The Peruvian international cost United a club-record $5 million to sign in January 2020, but after producing only three goals in 43 appearances Flores didn’t figure into Wayne Rooney’s vision for the squad and was allowed to go to Atlas for a reported $500,000 fee. He has appeared 15 times, and notched two assists, but yet has to make any real impact.
4. Watch out for Julián Quiñones
One of the few bright spots in an otherwise lost 2022 Apertura, Julián Quiñones is a legit threat in attack. The 25-year-old Colombian has found the back of the net five times this season, accounting for fully one-third of the goals Atlas scored — that’s just one fewer than the six notched by ageless heartthrob André-Pierre Gignac, winner of the 2022 Clausura Golden Boot.
5. Luis Reyes vs Gabriel Pereira will be spicy
The most interesting matchup could be between Atlas left-back Luis Reyes and NYCFC right-winger Gabriel Pereira. Reyes is a 31-year-old Mexico international, a Best XI Clausura 2022, a Liga MX 2022 All-Star, and arguably the most consistent performer on the Atlas squad. With Gabriel Pereira putting in strong performances in recent games, expect to see some sparks fly on that side of the field.