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Cruz Azul fell to their second loss of the season after three games last week against Necaxa
Tigres UANL were held to a second successive draw last week by Atletico de San Luis
In the reverse fixture last season, a 93rd-minute penalty handed Cruz Azul a 3-2 win over Tigres UANL
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After beating two title contenders in Santos Laguna and Pachuca in the opening two games of the Clausura 2023 season, Tigres UANL hoisted themselves to the top of the table. However, the next two games against Tijuana and Atletico de San Luis were frustratingly disappointing for the side as they ended in draws.
Meanwhile, Cruz Azul started their season with a 1-1 draw against Tijuana. After that, the side suffered their first defeat of the season against Monterrey and then lost again last week against Necaxa.
Considering all aspects, it seems that Cruz Azul will have to wait a little longer for their first win of the season because a frustrated Tigres UANL side has the firepower to sweep them aside in this encounter.
In Liga MX, the two sides have met on 29 occasions, and Tigres UANL slightly edge in front in the head-to-head statistics. They have 11 wins, while Cruz Azul have won nine times. Ten games have ended in draws.
In Apertura 2022, the game was tied at 2-2 till the 93rd minute when a Santiago Gimenez penalty won it for Cruz Azul at the Estadio Universitario de Nuevo León. However, the Estadio Azteca has been a happy hunting ground for Tigres UANL.
In the last five visits to the venue, Tigres UANL have only lost once and that defeat came in the Clausura 2022 season. After that, they have won thrice and drawn once against Cruz Azul at the Estadio Azteca. The last time these two sides met at the venue was during the Clausura 2022 playoff quarter-final, in which Tigres UANL won 1-0.
Cruz Azul finished seventh in the Apertura 2022 with 24 points. However, this time around, they find themselves just a point off the bottom of the table. These are still early days but another loss will keep Cruz Azul at just one point after four games.
The side are facing a vulnerable and frustrated Tigres UANL side that has been held to exasperating draws in the last two games - games they were favorites to win after stunning victories in the opening two games.
Cruz Azul have beaten Tigres UANL in the last two Liga MX encounters and will be looking to extend that number to three in the upcoming match. However, Tigres UANL will be amongst the top competitors for the title and will not bow down that easily.
A big positive for Cruz Azul is that they have their entire squad fit and available for the next game. Toluca loanee Michael Estrada was suspended during the last game after picking up a red card against Monterrey.
The striker will be back in contention to start against Tigres UANL and get off the mark this season. In the Apertura season, Estrada scored three and assisted one in eight appearances for the club. The Ecuadorian will be eager to nab a spot in the starting XI this season.
So far in the Clausura 2023 season, Estrada has fired blanks in both his appearances and picked up a red card in the second game. It will be interesting to see how the 26-year-old bounces back from that.
Carlos Rodriguez and Uriel Antuna are the only goalscorers for Cruz Azul after three games this season. The third goal came via an own goal. Meanwhile, Rodriguez has also nabbed an assist after he set up Antuna’s goal against Monterrey.
Wingers Carlos Rotondi and Cristian Tabo have been quite ineffective down the flanks in the games they have played so far. Ignacio Rivero, who was sublime in the midfield last season, has also put in performances that are subpar.
Coach Raul Gutierrez will hope his players regain their lost form so Cruz Azul can bounce back with a win and aim for a playoff spot this season.
Tigres UANL are one of four teams in Liga MX that are yet to lose a game in this Clausura season. They have made a stellar start but it could have been better as the side could have been at the top of the table if they had not dropped points in either of the last two games.
Against Club Tijuana, Tigres UANL trailed after just three minutes. The equalizer came via their talisman Andre-Pierre Gignac but it took 60 minutes for that goal after which the net did not ripple again.
The game last week against Atletico de San Luis was another flustering affair for Tigres UANL as the lack of composure was evident yet again. Unlike the previous game, Tigres UANL dominated huge portions of this encounter but only managed to keep three out of 18 total shots on target
After snatching prolific striker Nicolas Ibanez from the grasp of Pachuca, Tigres UANL were eager to complete all required formalities to pair the striker up with Gignac up front. After releasing Florian Thauvin last week, Ibanez is now eligible to play for his new club.
The Argentine came on for Fernando Gorriaran to make his first appearance for the club in last week’s 0-0 draw against Atletico de San Luis in the 78th minute. The 28-year-old will be in contention to start the next match against Cruz Azul.
In the Apertura 2022 season, Ibanez scored 11 goals in 17 appearances. Before leaving Pachuca, he also bagged a brace in their opening game of the Clausura 2023 season.
As Ibanez settles in at his new team, Tigres UANL have also welcomed back Raymundo Fulgencio, who is returning from a lengthy injury layoff. The winger last featured in Tigres UANL’s Apertura 2022 quarter-final clash against Pachuca in October 2022.
The promising 22-year-old came on as a substitute for the last half an hour of the game against Atletico de San Luis, during which he finished with a passing accuracy of 100% after playing 21 accurate passes and completed two successful dribbling runs as well.
He won all the ground duels he was involved in and has definitely established himself as a candidate worthy of a starting XI spot.
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Teams: Cruz Azul vs Tigres UANL
Location: Estadio Azteca
Time: Saturday, February 4 at 8:05 pm ET onwards
How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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