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The Clasico Joven has arrived!
Pitting the top two teams of the 2021 Clausura season, this Saturday’s crosstown rivalry between Club America and Cruz Azul should not only go down as a must-see game but also a potential preview of what this season’s championship game could look like.
Cruz Azul will keep this one competitive with plenty of fireworks, but that’ll be America’s to lose. As we’ll discuss later, Cruz Azul have needed a bit of luck to be where they are at this season.
America for the win (+130)
|Club America vs Cruz Azul Information|
|What||Club America vs Cruz Azul|
|Where||Estadio Azteca (Mexico City, Mexico)|
|When||Saturday, April 17th at 10:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
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It’s something that has been discussed numerous times, but it’s worth repeating: In theory, America should be in 1st place over Cruz Azul. Although the league table currently has the two flipped with Cruz Azul at the top with a two-point cushion, it doesn’t truly reflect how the season has gone.
Remember, America were docked three points earlier in the Clausura when an ineligible player sat on their bench in their 2-0 victory over Atlas. Although the player didn’t take part in the match, league rules dictated that America would have to automatically forfeit, thereby giving Atlas a 3-0 win.
If that player wasn’t sitting on America’s bench, they would currently be one point ahead of a Cruz Azul team that have needed plenty of fortunate moments and last-minute changes throughout the last few months.
Widely recognized as a team that is accustomed to dramatic failures and high-profile blunders, it has been slightly bizarre to see how fortuitous Cruz Azul have been this season — especially in recent weeks.
Currently, in the midst of an incredible 12-game winning streak, Cruz Azul have scraped by with six 1-0 wins in their last seven victories. In fact, despite their progress, they haven’t finished a match with more than a one-goal advantage since February 17th.
Diving deeper into the numbers, research consultants StatisKicks released a graphic earlier this month highlighting the contrast between “expected points” and “points obtained” in the league. In the graphic, there’s a noteworthy disparity for Cruz Azul that implies that the club should be a whopping 13 points lower in the table.
La tabla de la Justica o Injusticia ¿? del Guard1anes 2021.
— Statiskicks (@statiskicks) April 9, 2021
Looking back at that graphic, it’s not much of a shock to see America as the clear leader in the “expected points” category.
But you don’t need fancy stats to tell you that either.
Under the leadership of new manager Santiago Solari, it has been satisfying to watch his side develop a clear identity and an organized system that has been improving with each passing week. Leaders like Sebastian Cordova, Richard Sanchez, Pedro Aquino, Alvaro Fidalgo, and numerous others have all seamlessly gelled with his system.
It’s genuinely fun to watch, and outside of just the stats pointing to America playing better than Cruz Azul, Solari’s men have also passed the eye test of being the most impressive and dominant Liga MX club so far in 2021.
For a team that has gotten by on just the thinnest of margins, the last thing that they needed was for their manager to be absent. Due to a mid-game argument with a referee in their previous win against Chivas, manager Juan Reynoso was shown a red and will therefore miss this Saturday’s rivalry battle.
Seen as a motivator and tactician that has enlivened his squad, Reynoso will now be missing for Cruz Azul on the sidelines for the first time this season.
And as mentioned beforehand, Cruz Azul haven’t had too much room for error. Without their manager, this could be the tipping point that finally snaps their winning streak.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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