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They might be seven places apart on the table, but these two teams are going to run each other closer than it appears. They have had symmetrically contrasting starts to the season – Necaxa started with two losses, and won their first game on match day 3. Pachuca had the opposite – two wins to start the season, and then they went down against Leon in a listless performance that ultimately ended with them being down to 10 men.
These teams are pretty evenly rated – in the Apertura leg of the season, Necaxa finished 14th and Pachuca finished 15th. The odds suggest the same at the moment as well. We think Necaxa have a slight edge playing at home, but all in all, we expect this to be an evenly fought game that is likely to end in either a draw or a low-scoring result.
Necaxa’s biggest concert going into their last game was how little quality they seemed to be showing in the final third. After the first two games, they had managed to score a single goal, and had conceded six in return. Taking such a record to an away fixture is generally a cause for concern, but their opponents didn’t exactly make it hard for them. Jordan Carrillo was sent off as early as the 19th minute, and though it was Laguna who opened the scoring in the 36th, it would eventually end in a torrent of goals against them.
The goal Laguna scored ended up being their only shot on target for the entirety of the game. Necaxa had 61 percent possession, and completed 407 passes, although the passing accuracy of 83 percent against 10 men would be something they’d look to improve. They also committed 19 fouls, a sloppy metric that could have cost them on another day.
But where it mattered was in the final third, and they were near perfect in that sense. Alonso Escoboza made two assists and Rodrigo Aguirre bagged a brace to round up an exciting attacking display that involved 18 goal attempts, with 8 of those on target in a 4-1 win for the club whose investment roster has names like Mesut Ozil, Eva Longoria, and Kate Upton.
It was never going to be easy travelling to the Estadio Leon to try and pick up points against the 2021 Apertura runners-up, but Pachuca couldn’t have asked for a better run of form going into such a fixture. They were among only three teams in the league who had begun the season with a 100 percent win rate, even managing two goals apiece in those first two games despite not being at a high enough level in possession.
Their style is built on getting goals and defending resolutely, but that wasn’t well served by the fact that Oscar Murillo was sent off in the 59th minute while Pachuca were trailing 1-2. It was Pachuca that ended up having more shots on target – 8 of their 14 attempts, versus 5 out of 12 for Leon – but they couldn’t find a way to score. Their sole goal in the match was an own goal by William Tesillo. They did, however, lift their passing accuracy from 69 percent in their last game to 76 percent against Leon.
Club America is not a great place to be in at the moment. The fans have been upset about them since their ouster in the Apertura playoffs, and the tension has magnified following their loss against Atlas in the last round. The fans want both the coach and the president to be sacked as Club America, who finished the Apertura season in first place, are sitting in 14th after beginning the Clausura season with a draw and a loss.
However, they could not hope for a better opponent to try and turn things around. San Luis are languishing at the bottom of the table, having begun the Clausura season with three straight defeats, and having scored in none of those games. We expect Club America to pick up three easy points at home.
A true representation of how things currently stand at Club America is currently found on the pitch as well – they have had a player sent off in each of their opening games. In the season opener, they got off to a perfect start, scoring a goal in the very first minute. But Roger Martinez was sent off in the 36th, and they had to hang on for a 1-1 draw in which they managed only 31 percent of the possession against Puebla.
It was much the same in their last game against Atlas, where Federico Vinas was sent off in the 78th minute while America were chasing a 1-0 deficit before falling 2-0. It was a markedly improved performance, however, as they kept 60 percent possession and had a passing accuracy of 81 percent. They are by no means a team that should be struggling this much, but their own indiscipline has cost them so far. They will need to turn that around quickly.
There is one clear and fair opinion you can have about the Clausura season so far, and that is to say that San Luis have been the poorest team. Two of their three straight losses have come at home, and the latest of that included a first-half sending off against Juarez.
San Luis have been sitting on the defensive in every game so far, and the quality in the final third has been close to non-existent. It might have even come off for them against Juarez, where they were looking to hold on for a draw for the most part until an 82nd minute penalty. San Luis had 13 attempts on goal in that match, but only one of those shots were on target.
That kind of conversion rate does not bode well for them and the time to turn it around is extremely short in a compressed season of just 17 matches. They have 14 games remaining and must pick up at least 20 points from those to float above the lower run. At the moment, they don’t seem to have the goals in them to achieve such a feat.
These two teams fall squarely into mid-table category according to our estimates, although that might be slightly overselling Juarez who finished 16th in the Apertura season. They have, however, looked more promising in the early stages of the Clausura season, notching up two wins out of three games, and a loss in the middle that has put them in the 6-point cluster consisting four teams between the 4th and 7th positions.
Guadalajara have begun the season with no such consistency, picking up a win, a draw, and a loss in their three opening games. The mitigating fact for them is that they have scored 5 goals in those 3 games, versus Juarez’s 3 from 3. If they manage to shut out at the back and keep their 3 goals conceded metric as it is, they may well be able to pick up a result on Sunday. It’s hard to separate these teams, but we are leaning towards a draw, if not a narrow Juarez win at home.
Juarez are built around a pragmatic, cautious style of play and are not ones to go down any adventurous paths. Occasionally, this kind of a style works out perfectly for them, and their last round was an example of that.
San Luis had a man sent off in the first half, and Juarez kept on knocking at the door, even if it wasn’t with too much flair or precision – they only got 4 of their 17 shots on target. Ultimately, their persistence was rewarded through a penalty in the 82nd minute that Leite put away to seal three crucial points away from home. Their patient manner is a good sign that they are not a team that will drop down the table easily.
Guadalajara were frustrated by Queretaro in their last round, having a lion’s share of the possession and a superb conversion rate with their strikes on goal, all for a 1-1 result.
They completed 475 passes at an 81 percent accuracy, whereas Queretaro managed only 244 passes at an appalling accuracy of 59 percent. Such was the control Guadalajara exhibited in midfield. In all, it was 66 percent possession for them at home that translated into 17 goal attempts with 9 of those shots on target. But the goal they conceded in the 2nd minute eventually would haunt them for the rest of the game, as all of that pressure only resulted in one goal in the 42nd minute for Alexis Vega.
Club Tijuana are playing at home, but that might end up being the only real advantage for them coming into this fixture against Pumas UNAM. Tijuana currently sit on one point from their three games in the Clausura season and in the early stages are among the teams with the worst defences in the league. They’ve conceded 6 from three games and only scored 2.
Pumas began the season in rollicking style, with a 5-0 win, which they followed up with 3-1 away win – despite having a player sent off – against Queretaro. But they were hurt by Tigres UANL in their last match, an exciting affair in which they were edged out at home by a goal. We’re inclined to go against what most sportsbooks are rating them coming into this fixture, and call them slight favourites.
A significant number of positive cases within Club Tijuana’s ranks meant that their fixture against Puebla had to be postponed. When the game did ultimately get played on January 29, it ended in a heavy defeat for Tijuana.
They managed to open the scoring in the game, through Lisandro Lopez in the 33rd minute, but were then gradually played out of the game by the home side. That goal ended up being their only shot on target out of 8 attempts, and while the possession and passing metrics between the two teams had some parity, Puebla struck the killer blows in the final 10 minutes to turn a tense 1-1 match up to that point into a pretty comfortable win by the end. Tijuana’s goal was only their second of the season in three matches, and we don’t expect that to change drastically in the coming weeks.
Pumas are by far the top scoring team in the Clausura season so far, accentuated by the 5-0 drubbing they handed to Toluca on match day 1. They managed to get 3 in their second game as well, but couldn’t quite keep it up against Tigres, who managed to steal their first win of the season through a 97th minute penalty by veteran French striker Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Pumas were forced to sit back in their half for the majority of the game, but were by no means outplayed by Tigres in that fixture. Despite having only 38 percent possession, their passing accuracy was up at 82 percent, and they created more chances than Tigres – 17 attempts with 8 of them on target in a game that contained a total of 33 goal attempts. They will be keen to brush off the heartbreak at the end of that 2-1 result and spring straight back into things for a win that will potentially propel them into the Top 3.
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|Liga MX Information|
|Teams||Necaxa vs Pachuca, Club America vs San Luis, Juárez vs Guadalajara, Club Tijuana vs Pumas UNAM|
|Time||Saturday, February 5 at 6.00 PM EST 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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