21 de Noviembre del 2018 5:09 pm.
Los Guerreros continue their preparation at Territorio Santos Modelo after the international break, where they’ve worked daily under the command of head coach Salvador Reyes and his coaching staff to finish the regular season as high in the standings as possible.
Midfielder Carlos Emilio Orrantia, who doubles as a defender and began his professional career with this weekend’s Mexico City-based rivals in 2008, says los Guerreros will head into Sunday’s game with a solid foundation of stability and consistency working in their favor.
"Santos, throughout the last few years, has done very well,” he said. “It has won championships, has fought in the playoffs and aims to always have a presence there. In football, a lot can change throughout the course of a weekend, but the stability that has kept the team together is important. We are focused, we know that in our last games there have been details to improve, but the team is working to fine-tune those things and improve every weekend. We want to add three points to be able to close at home and guarantee a place among the top four."
To do that, los Guerreros must defeat or draw with a third-place Pumas team at a complicated Estadio Olimpico Universitario Sunday afternoon.
Both teams sit with 29 points with only a goal separating them offensively – Pumas’ 18 to Santos’ 17, 12 of which belong to Argentine striker Julio Furch.
Forward Jonathan Rodriguez, who has eight goals on the season, will reincorporate into the squad on Thursday upon his return from France, where he played 17 minutes for Uruguay’s national team on Tuesday. Winger Ayrton Preciado returns from duty with Ecuador, where he played a total of 98 minutes in two victories against Panama and Peru and nabbed an assist.
It will be a battle of the offense between two clubs set out for the same objective of securing that crucial spot as high in the table as possible to earn the home-field advantage during the second legs of the quarterfinals, semifinals, and the final.
"Pumas has capable players, they have players on the offense who have understood each other well throughout the tournament,” Orrantia said. “They score goals so we also have to be focused and sharp on the defensive side, but on the other hand, we are a dynamic team which creates a lot of danger so we need to manage the times and make the important plays.”
In the back, left back Gerardo Arteaga will be available after his call to duty with Mexico in Argentina, and while los Guerreros will have to make do without team captain Jose Javier Abella - out on a red card suspension, and Jesus Angulo – out with a hand fracture, Orrantia says he’s ready to step up and fill the role if needed.
"These are issues that Chava (Reyes) decides, but I'm ready. As he had said before, the player who arrives must be prepared so that the team looks the same or performs best.”
A win on Sunday would guarantee a second or third-place spot for Santos depending on how Club America finish at Estadio Azteca against Veracruz, where a draw would keep the team in fourth place, barring a Monterrey victory over Atlas by five or more goals.
Los Guerreros will hold two more sessions this week at Territorio Santos Modelo before taking off for Mexico City on Friday afternoon, where they’ll concentrate at the Mexican Football Federation’s high performance center ahead of Sunday afternoon’s game, slated for kick-off at 12:00 pm central time.