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Liga MX is full of superbly talented and intelligent footballers, particularly in the attacking positions, but unfortunately these players receive little coverage outside of North America. Therefore, Thomas Harrison has decided to highlight some of Liga MX’s genius’ in a series of articles. First up is a player that’s greatly underrated by many followers of Mexican fútbol, Rubén Botta.

Ruben Botta 2016


Who is he?

Recently turned 26, Rubén Botta is an Argentine attacking midfielder currently playing for Pachuca in Liga MX. A member of the Boca Juniors academy for over ten years, Botta received his league debut with another Argentine side, Tigre, at the age of 19. After developing with Tigre, Botta attracted the attention of Italian giants Internazionale, and joined the Milan side in January 2014 once citizenship issues were resolved.

Botta’s time in Italy, both at Inter and during a loan spell with Chievo, didn’t go according to plan though and last summer he was sold off, with Mexican side Pachuca his destination. Unfortunately, things haven’t been perfect in Pachuca for Botta either. With manager Diego Alonso favouring a more pragmatic 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1, Botta isn’t able to play in his favoured number ten role, and is therefore forced onto the wing, or the bench. He’s clearly an incredibly talented footballer though, and has been an absolute joy to watch this season.


Highlights

America vs Pachuca

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The first Rubén Botta highlight comes from a recent game between América and Pachuca at the world famous Estadio Azteca. With a few minutes remaining, Pachuca were leading the game 2-1, but the momentum was with América and Las Águilas had recently hit the post. Having missed the first couple of games of the Clausura (2nd half of the season) through injury, Rubén Botta only appeared off the bench in the 86th minute, and just a minute later he picked up the ball in América’s box as Pachuca hit on the counter. Most in this position would have attempted a shot or laid off Erick Gutiérrez, the man on the edge of the D.

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But Botta isn’t most players, and he’s spotted Hirving Lozano at the back post and the movement of the man currently blocking the pass to Lozano, Ventura Alvarado. As you can see, Rubén rolls the ball under his left boot, bringing it onto his right-foot.

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This allows Botta to cross to Hirving Lozano, now unmarked as América right-back Ventura Alvarado has been drawn to the more obvious danger, Erick Gutiérrez.

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And young prospect Chucky Lozano has an easy finish, securing the three points for Los Tuzos. It was a superb assist by Botta, who showed incredible awareness, quickness of thought and technical ability in setting up Lozano.

Monterrey vs Pachuca

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The second highlight comes from a thrilling game last August. With Pachuca trailing Monterrey 3-2, Botta is about to receive possession, but is surrounded by four Monterrey players.

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He instantly turns away from one…

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…and shows great close control to leave the defender directly in his way on his backside. Pachuca now have a two on one situation and Botta looks to use the extra man, striker Ariel Nahuelpán, to get round the final Monterrey player in his way.

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The Monterrey defender is drawn in before Botta passes it into Nahuelpán, resulting in another Rayados player being left on the floor.

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The Monterrey defender is drawn in before Botta passes it into Nahuelpán, resulting in another Rayados player being left on the floor.

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Nahuelpán completes the one-two with Botta and Rubén produces a cool finish to make it 3-3. As you can see from the clock in the top left-hand corner of the pictures, it took Botta just four seconds to go from being surrounded by four opposition players outside the box, to having a simple finish from well inside the box. Utterly brilliant.

Queretaro vs Pachuca

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Finally, an example of the vision that Botta possesses. When the ball arrives at the feet of Botta there doesn’t appear to be much on, but he’s spotted the gap where the Querétaro left-back should be.

 

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Opening up his body, Botta needs just one touch to play in Pachuca right-back Shaggy Martínez.

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In behind Querétaro’s defence, Martínez is now able to cross into Ariel Nahuelpán (circled), who heads home, putting Pachuca 2-1 up, a lead they would keep intact for the rest of the match. The goal wouldn’t have happened without Querétaro’s poor defending, leaving the gap at left-back and failing to mark Nahuelpán, but it was that one touch by Botta that led to Querétaro being punished.


Written by Thomas Harrison.

Thomas Harrison

Thomas Harrison

After randomly watching a Liga MX game one Friday night, Tom fell in love with the league and has been an avid follower ever since. Follow him for more articles and updates on Mexican fútbol.
Thomas Harrison

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