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|Don’t make too much of Cruz Azul’s recent inability to score in their recent playoff battle. In the first of the two semifinal legs against Pachuca, Cruz Azul exited the match with an unexciting 0-0 away draw. In theory, as the slight favorites, more was expected of the visitors. That said, when glancing at a number of manager Juan Reynoso’s results for Cruz Azul, this might all be going according to plan.
As opposed to worrying about Cruz Azul’s lack of goals, the same could be said of Pachuca when they remained scoreless at home.
Cruz Azul should bounce back here with an attack-minded XI this weekend.
|Cruz Azul vs Pachuca Information|
|Teams||Cruz Azul vs Pachuca|
|Location||Estadio Azteca (Mexico City, Mexico)|
|Time||Saturday, May 22nd at 9:00pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
It’s easy to only focus on Cruz Azul’s lack of scoring in the first semifinal leg.
As one of the “big four” teams of Liga MX, any perceived misstep or mistake rarely lacks coverage or attention from media or fans.
A 0-0 draw is a perfect example of these perceived mistakes, and with no potential away goals that could help settle a tiebreaker in the Liga MX semis, alarm bells will surely be ringing for some Cruz Azul supporters.
But what about Pachuca? They were, after all, the hosts of the first leg and should have had more of the impetus to find the back of the net.
Pachuca failed to do so, and although they’ll feel content about not allowing any away goals for Cruz Azul, this could be all according to plan for Reynoso and his men.
When watching Cruz Azul, it’s interesting to note the slight mid-week tinkerings of Reynoso with his squad.
Whether it be in the Concacaf Champions League or a high-profile playoff encounter, the Cruz Azul manager always has a tendency of going with a more conservative approach in order to save energy for the weekend.
There’s no doubt that it has been risky. Cruz Azul kicked off their Liga MX playoff run with a loss to Toluca and recently earned a 0-0 draw in the CCL round of 16 against heavy underdogs Arcahaie from Haiti.
And yet, it has worked out.
In the CCL, Cruz Azul eventually found their way to the semifinals that will kick off later this year. And in the current Liga MX playoffs, Reynoso should once again aim to be more assertive in the second leg against Pachuca.
There’s much to be said about momentum in Liga MX.
With a noteworthy amount of parity that permeates most of the league, the difference between a title contender and a team that faces an early exit could solely be based on a previous run of form.
We’ve seen it time and time again, and specifically looking at Pachuca, one could make the argument that the team that was once in last place is here today because of their impressive late-season sprint.
Nonetheless, that sprint now seems to be closer to a trot in the last couple of weeks.
Pachuca allowed four goals in their previous 4-2 defeat by Club America in the quarterfinals, and thanks to a tiebreaker in their favor, they stumbled into their latest match which ended in a 0-0 draw at home.
In reference to Reynoso’s previously mentioned approaches, Cruz Azul will be expected to give more minutes to attack-minded options this weekend.
Names like Orbelin Pineda, Brayan Angulo and Juan Escobar should be back in the XI to produce more dynamic and creative opportunities in the final third.
Angulo — who has five goals in all competitions since mid-April — is also worth noting.
The Ecuadorian has stepped up as a secret weapon of sorts, and after finding the back of the net in a crucial game against Toluca in the quarterfinal stage, the striker could once again be the difference-maker this Saturday.
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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