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Cruz Azul will host San Luis at the Estadio Azteca on Saturday. Only one point separates the two sides, but Cruz Azul have a game in hand.
Cruz Azul are in decent form heading into this tie. They beat Pumas UNAM 1-0 in their last match and won four of their previous five matches in the league.
San Luis broke their five-game winless run in the league with a win over Queretaro over the weekend. This was San Luis’ third win of the Liga MX season.
Odds taken from Bet365.
Pick: Cruz Azul to win (-143)
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This is a massive game for both sides as the league heads toward the closing stages of the regular season. Only one point separates Cruz Azul and San Luis, but the former has a game in hand over the latter. Cruz Azul will play at home, so they’re the clear favorites heading into this tie.
They’ve also been in better form in recent weeks, but San Luis head into this game with a spring in their step after ending a five-game winless run. Only two points separate the team from 9th to 14th on the table, with Cruz Azul leading the pack, but if any of these teams want to make it to the playoffs, they’ll have to go all-in.
Draws won’t do as the side in eighth (Santos Laguna) is two points ahead of ninth place Cruz Azul, and the side in seventh place (Leon) is five points ahead. There’s a lot at stake in this game for both sides; it should be a cracking encounter. Cruz Azul have a lot more going for them heading into this than San Luis, which is why it’s hard to see past a Cruz Azul win.
San Luis have a highly favorable head-to-head record in this fixture. They’ve won 11, lost four, and drawn three of their matches against Cruz Azul. This should give San Luis a physiological edge over Cruz Azul – they’ll need all the advantages because they’re the underdog heading into this match despite the superior head-to-head record.
The last meeting between the two sides ended in a draw. The game took place in July 2022 and was a drab affair, as the scoreline suggested. Only 16 shots were taken in total, with Cruz Azul taking seven and San Luis taking nine. Cruz Azul edged the possession (53%) but worked the keeper just once, whereas San Luis worked the keeper on four occasions.
San Luis were playing at home, so the onus was on them to take the game to Cruz Azul. This didn’t occur, and a draw was a fair result in the end.
Cruz Azul earned their fourth win in five matches against Pumas UNAM over the weekend. The 1-0 scoreline didn’t reflect Cruz Azul’s dominance in the game. They had 57% of the possession and took 16 shots, with three on target. Pumas UNAM, on the other hand, worked the keeper just once all game.
Cruz Azul had to wait a while to break the deadlock. Alonso Escoboz’s strike came in the 84th minute, but it was well-deserved for Cruz Azul, the only team in the match trying to play some football. Pumas UNAM seemed fine with a draw, which is always a risky strategy – they ultimately got punished for it.
Cruz Azul have only scored 11 goals in 10 games. Of course, they’re on a good run of form, but this stat is concerning. Other than Leon, most of the clubs ahead of them have had no trouble in attack. Leon, however, have the best defensive record in the league. The same can’t be said for Cruz Azul, who has conceded 13 goals this season.
Cruz Azul also have a negative goal difference at the moment. They won’t get a better opportunity to remedy that than this game against San Luis. San Luis aren’t an easy opponent, but Cruz Azul are playing at home and are clearly the favorites heading into this tie. There’s a great chance to get a clean sheet and score some goals to even out that goal difference. A win might not be enough to qualify for the playoffs because every other team in the current top eight, bar Santos Laguna, has a positive goal difference. It feels like a must-win for their playoff hopes.
San Luis had to get all three points against Queretaro to keep their playoff hopes; they managed that and more against Queretaro over the weekend. They won 2-0 thanks to second-half strikes from Dieter Villalpando and Vitor Samuel Ferreira Arantes.
Villalpando’s strike came two minutes into the second half, and Arantes’ came seven minutes into the second-half stoppage. The whole club breathed a sigh of relief after Arantes’ strike, which confirmed the three points.
San Luis were well worth their three points. They had 57% of the possession and took 17 shots to Queretaro’s seven, with six finding the target. The most impressive aspect of their performance was the patience on the show – San Luis didn’t panic despite missing a few chances in the second half. They kept their heads, repeated what worked in the first half in the second half, and were rewarded with a great win.
San Luis showed a lot of character over the weekend against Queretaro and will need to show more of the same for the rest of the season if they want to qualify for the playoffs. Their form prior to the Queretaro game was a bit worrying and they might’ve given themselves too much to do in this final stretch of regular season games.
The positive is that, besides the game against Pachuca on matchday 16, they’re more than capable of beating all the sides that they’re set to face if they put in performances like the one on the weekend. However, this is easier said than done – they don’t really have the firepower up front to turn their dominance in possession into goals. They’ve scored just 10 goals all season, and their defensive record (14 goals) isn’t something worth singing about, either.
A win against Cruz Azul, however, would make the whole club believe they can qualify for the playoffs. They need to remind themselves of their superior head-to-head record – if they play with no fear and put in a similar display to the one over the weekend, they could just go on a run.
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Teams: Cruz Azul vs San Luis
Location: Estadio Azteca
Time: Saturday, March 18 at 5:00 pm ET onwards
How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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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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