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The Mexico Corner: Pizzi's Commanding Leon to a great start in the Apertura | SBI Soccer

The Mexico Corner: Pizzi's Commanding Leon to a great start in the Apertura | SBI Soccer

Pizzi, a coach who had just managed Valencia in La Liga, was seduced by the idea to come to Liga MX and coach Leon, a club that not long ago won two consecutive championships. But in his first season in Mexico, Pizzi's numbers did not captivate - Leon only recorded four wins and his defense was second to last after conceding 32 goals.

The tradition in Mexico is that if a coach can ' give immediate results, more likely, that coach will be removed from his seat. In league MX, the annual year of football is split into two seasons, which demands the coaches to compete within a limited time span.

Nevertheless, Leon respected Pizzi's projects, and at the end of the 2015 Clausura, which finished with an emphatic 6-2 win over Xolos, the club president Jesus Martinez Murguia demonstrated all of his support to a coach that led San Lorenzo to an Argentine league title.

This past weekend, Veracruz came to Leon, without two key players in the starting-eleven, midfielder Gabriel Peñalba and forward Daniel Villalba. Midfielder Emmanuel "Manny" Garcia, who can also play in the left-back position, described Leon as a disorganized team, and if Veracruz was able to move the ball fast, they could have the advantage at Leon's Estadio Nou Camp. >

Juan Albin's goal to put Veracruz ahead, 1-0, at Nou Camp was so grandiose that even some of the faithful Leon had no choice but to applaud the goal. The goal was an outside-the-box shot, but not any kind of shot, a chipped shot, just smooth and the ball hardly spun until it kissed the net.

In an act of desperation, and "lack of concentration," the Veracruz boss Carlos Reinoso would later point out in the press conference after the match, Jesus Arturo Paganoni blocked that header into the net and would have meant the 1-1 tie. Paganoni got booked a red, but Mauro Boselli did not convert the penalty, and the game was still 0-1 for Veracruz.

After the red-card, Veracruz's got demolished and Leon took over, first with Miguel Sabah with a tap-in to tie, then former Boca Juniors centerback Nicolas Burdisso gave Leon the 2-1 lead.

One of the key advantages Leon still has at his disposal that he still has a good part of that team that achieved the back-to-back titles. Two players that have a crucial role in the team are Gallito and Boselli.

Pizzi described Gallito's importance in detail, saying: "'El Gallo' is a special player. He does not need to readapt because he's always playing to the limit. He's a privileged footballer who possesses several qualities that allow him to be a month without playing, but when he has to play again, I can easily be the best in the field. "

On Saturday night, Boselli missed one penalty, but scored in his second try. As the captain of the team, he already has four goals in two league games. Last season, during Pizzi's first season at Leon, Boselli only played six complete games out of the possible 17. He missed eight games in the Clausura 2015 and only scored three goals.

Players like Gallito and Boselli make Leon a title contender, but Pizzi remains prudent about his team's great start in the new season. "I think you can always get better, and you can always ask for a better performance," stated Pizzi. "But sometimes you do not count with the best precision, or the opponent has a better night."

- Nine years, three months, nine days later, Dorados of Sinaloa, got a win in Mexico's First Division. Dorados will be remembered as the team where Pep Guardiola played a couple of seasons, and based on the stories coming from Culiacan, he already acted like a coach. After being down 1-0 for 32 minutes, the newly promoted MX club got their first win in Tijuana by snatching 1-2 victory over the visiting side.

- On Sunday night versus Benfica, Monterrey inaugurated its new stadium, BBVA Bancomer Stadium, but a night before, Mexico President, Enrique Peña Nieto attended an inaugural ceremony in which only the country's VIPs were allowed to attend, not the public.

- It was back in the Winter 1997 that Club America started the season with two consecutive losses. Eighteen years later, with Nacho Ambriz as coach, the story repeats itself. America has two losses, three goals scored, and seven goals conceded. Next in line for America are Pachuca and Dorados, two clubs that are undefeated in the Apertura.

- One of the surprising, pleasant stories of the last Cup America, Peruvian midfielder Christian Cueva, debuted this weekend in the Toluca's 2-1 win over Pumas. In the 15 minutes he was on the field, he was superb with his passing and created several dangerous plays, that could have ended Toluca goals.

Queretaro 1-2 Pachuca


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