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Cruz Azul and Pumas UNAM are still looking to find their feet this season, and this match will serve as a good indication of how far they can go this season. Cruz Azul made a terrible start to the season but recovered to win three games to the bounce before Mazatlan got the better of them last week.
Pumas UNAM made a decent start to the season but have lost whatever momentum they’d built after losing four of their previous five matches. Both sides are dangling in midtable and haven’t played with enough conviction to suggest they’ll be a top playoff side. Cruz Azul’s recent form suggests they’re the more potent side; they’re also playing at home, so they’ll most likely edge this match.
Cruz Azul have a superior head-to-head record. The two sides have faced each other on 28 occasions – Cruz Azul have come out on top on 13 occasions, lost six, and drawn nine games.
The last match between the two sides occurred in December 2022, and Cruz Azul won that game 2-1. Rodrigo Huescas scored in the 25th minute before Gonzalo Carneiro made it 2-0 just before the half-time whistle. Cruz Azul didn’t press on their lead and nearly got punished for it.
Diego de Olivera got one back for the home side in the 65th minute to make it 2-1. Pumas UNAM kept pushing, but Cruz Azul got all three points in the end. Pumas UNAM took 20 shots to Cruz Azul’s 11 and had 54% of the possession, but it was always going to be difficult for Pumas UNAM after going 2-0 down in the first-half. It was a good away display from Cruz Azul, but they’ll have to go about the upcoming game a bit differently if they want to get all three points.
Cruz Azul drew first blood over the weekend thanks to Uriel Antuna’s strike in the 17th minute but capitulated just before half-time to hand Mazatlan their first win of the season. Cruz Azul were in decent nick before the game – they’d gone on a three-game winning run and the start promised a fourth win in a row, but it all went downhill after they conceded a goal three minutes into first-half stoppage time.
Oswaldo Alanis scored the crucial goal for Mazatlan. Goals from Roberto Meraz and Facunda Almada in the 51st and 57th minute were enough to earn Mazatlan their first win of the season. Cruz Azul were poor after taking the initiative – they only took six shots on goal and worked the Mazatlan keeper thrice all game.
Just when it looked like Cruz Azul were set to go places, they had their worst result and performance of the season. There will be a lot of uncertainty around the team heading into the game against Pumas UNAM.
Cruz Azul had a horrific start to the season – they had no wins after seven games before winning three on the bounce. Just when it looked like they had turned a corner, they got another reality check.
Sitting in 12th place on the league table is unacceptable for a side that has won the league nine times. Fans weren’t pleased with the quarterfinal stage exit last season, which goes to show how far standards have dropped this season. Manager Ricardo Ferretti has to be careful here because another loss could see him lose his job.
The result wasn’t the only worry last week – the manner of the performance was also a big worry. Mazatlan, who had earned just one point all season, were fully deserving of all three points. Playing at an iconic stadium like the Estadio Azteca can be a double-edged sword – there will be lots of pressure on the team to put in a good performance and get a positive result on the weekend.
Pumas UNAM played their part in one of the best games of the week against Puebla but lost 4-2 on the day. Gustavo Javier del Prete gave Pumas UNAM the lead in the 11th minute, but Hector Murillo’s 20th-minute red card completely shifted the game's trajectory.
Omar Fernandez Frasica scored an equalizer in the 31st minute, and Angel Manuel Robles got one two minutes later to put Puebla 2-1 up. Pumas UNAM kept getting chances despite playing with 10 men – they took 15 shots on the day and had 41% of the possession, but they couldn’t hold on in the end.
Robles got his second of the day in the 85th minute, and Federico Mancuello scored another in the 90th minute to make it 4-2.
Pumas UNAM have shown a ridiculous lack of discipline this season. Most Liga MX sides have a discipline issue, but five sending-offs in 10 games is beyond parody – this is simply unacceptable for any professional football club.
Hector Murillo’s sending-off was particularly ludicrous because it came 20 minutes into the game. Manager Rafael Puente Jr. needs to be held accountable for this because he’s clearly not getting the message across to his players. The entire club needs to stop to sit down and have a chat about this issue because it is avoidable.
Fans can only tolerate so much and the most frustrating part of this trend is that Pumas UNAM have played some decent football throughout this season. They’ve scored 16 goals this season, which is an excellent return but the sending-offs have broken their defensive structure – they’ve already conceded 21 goals this season, which is over two goals per game.
This would almost certainly not be the case if they were completing most games with 10 men. Before looking at things like tactics, fitness, and opposition, the club needs to nip this in the bud. They won’t achieve anything this season if this isn’t handled.
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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