Cruz Azul vs Pumas Prediction, Betting Odds & Picks
- In the first round of the playoffs, Cruz Azul and Pumas had a strange shortage of good quality chance creation
- Pumas should soon be able to count on one of the top players of the Liga MX season, goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera
- In net, Cruz Azul could also make an impact through the likes of veteran goalkeeper Jesus “Chuy” Corona
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Cruz Azul vs Pumas Odds
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Cruz Azul vs Pumas Predictions and Picks
There’s little between these Mexico City giants. With a spot in Liga MX’s championship series on the line, this week’s first of two semifinal legs should do plenty to highlight any potential disparities that could give one side an advantage over the other.
That said, this first game on Thursday should likely end in a stalemate. While they should each be praised for their defensive efforts, both teams should also be criticized for their lack of chance creation in the final third — especially in the previous quarterfinal stage.
This will be a close one.
The tie (+240)
How to Watch Cruz Azul vs Pumas
|Cruz Azul vs Pumas Information|
|What||Cruz Azul vs Pumas|
|When||Thursday, December 3th at 10:00 PM ET|
|How to Watch||TUDN|
When looking at the final standings from the Liga MX regular season, it makes obvious sense as to why Cruz Azul and Pumas now find themselves within the final four.
Sliding in at 4th place, Cruz Azul have routinely been fun to watch over the last few months. Carried by Jonathan Rodriguez — the 2020 Apertura leading goalscorer — Los Cementeros have made a name for themselves as a high-flying and talented team that know how to shut down dangerous attacking players when needed.
Pumas, heading into the semis at 2nd place, have undeniably been one of the top teams in Liga MX. Headlined by a threatening attacking duo of Carlos Gonzalez and Juan Dinenno, and supported by a veteran goalkeeper like Alfredo Talavera, Pumas have rarely struggled with keeping pace with any opponent. Although Talavera recently suffered an injury (and should be set to return this week), backup Julio Gonzalez has had little-to-no issues with stepping in.
Looking ahead, it’s safe to assume that they could cancel each other out in their first semifinal match of the week.
Attacking Numbers Leave Much To Be Desired
It would be a stretch to say that Pumas and Cruz Azul have so far played breath-taking and exciting soccer in the playoffs this season.
After two matches in the quarterfinals and 180+ minutes of play, Pumas escaped their latest playoff series with a narrow 1-0 aggregate win. Through an average xG (expected goals) rating of just 0.68 over those two matches, it’s obvious that Pumas didn’t take many risks and felt comfortable with allowing their opponents, Pachuca, to take control of the game.
Cruz Azul employed somewhat of a similar strategy. Although they eventually defeated Tigres in the quarterfinals through a 3-2 aggregate win, their average xG over their two matches was a lowly 0.54. Considering the fact that they have a wealth of skilled players, it’s almost confusing to see them truly lack quality opportunities.
But as with Pumas, it worked for Cruz Azul.
And with both looking hesitant to take any chances, expect both to be happy to keep this a low-scoring affair.
We Shouldn’t Overlook The Return Of Talavera
Let’s say Cruz Azul recognizes the significance of hosting the first leg. With the historic Estadio Azteca as their backdrop, one could make the argument that they will be the ones who push forward and attempt to dictate the pace of the game.
That’s where Talavera steps in.
If reports are true, the 38-year-old should be ready and fit to take his place in net again after recovering from an injury. According to match analysis company wyscout, no Liga MX goalkeeper has prevented more goals this season than Talavera. For goalkeepers with 10+ starts, he also leads the league when it comes to saves per 90 minutes.
And if he isn’t fit? As mentioned earlier, Gonzalez has been an incredible back-up as well. Let’s not forget that he was starting in net for Pumas when they defeated Cruz Azul 2-1 last month either.
Cruz Azul Have An Extremely Reliable Goalkeeper As Well
We need to give credit where credit is due, and if we’re discussing the best goalkeepers in Liga MX, then Cruz Azul’s Jesus “Chuy” Corona is also worth a mention.
Known for his incredible reflexes, Corona is one of the main reasons why his team has only allowed 18 goals in their last 19 games. As a vocal leader who is no stranger to tense playoff battles, expect Corona to also potentially silence whatever Pumas throws at him in the attack.
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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]