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Pumas UNAM's stunning turnaround led by Castillo, Alustiza, Arribas

Pumas UNAM's stunning turnaround led by Castillo, Alustiza, Arribas
From ESPN - February 13, 2018

Countless Liga MX fans are puzzled about an astonishing turnaround that is currently dominating the headlines. With 11 league matches left on their schedule, Pumas have already surpassed the 13-point tally they collected last season. Thanks to a current mark of 14 points after six weeks of the Clausura, the Mexico City club is looking nothing like the laughingstock it was as recently as late-2017.

Less than three months ago, there was no team stuck in a more miserable run of form than Pumas. Their attack was abysmal, predictable and a constant source of agitation for supporters. In the 2017 Apertura, no Liga MX side scored fewer goals than Pumas.

Star striker Nicolas Castillo struggled to find his rhythm after suffering injury problems late last year, and when the Chile international was not finding the back of the net, none of this teammates took the initiative to step up. What inevitably followed was a worrisome last-place finish in the Apertura, a shameful position for an organization that is traditionally seen as one of the "big four" in Mexican soccer.

Now, after a very short winter break that included a couple of key additions, Pumas fans can proudly boast about their beloved squad that has so far been the most impressive in the Clausura. With a two-point cushion over second place, manager David Patino has helped carry his club to the top of the league table.

So how did this happen?

Patino deserves praise but credit for Pumas' resurgence should also be given to Castillo and newcomer Matias Alustiza. Castillo has taken charge with four goals and two assists for the club, as expected. To further prove how much of a nuisance he has been in the final third for defenders, no other Mexican first division player has been fouled more than Castillo in the Clausura.

That said, Alustiza has been just as crucial in the attack as a second striker/central attacking midfielder.

Looking elsewhere, Marcelo Diaz is worthy of a mention for his aggressive presence and excellent distribution from midfield. Fellow defensive midfielder David Cabrera has shined working alongside Diaz and Pablo Barrera has surprised many with a couple of headline-grabbing performances too. Yet if we are truly highlighting a figure who has been a game-changer for Pumas, there's no overlooking Alejandro Arribas.

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