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Neither team has set the world on fire this season, but one has struggled more than the other. Mazatlan have managed just one point after seven games, whereas Pumas UNAM have at least managed to place themselves in 11th place on the Liga MX table ahead of this game.
Pumas UNAM’s recent form, however, is no better than Mazatlan’s – they’ve managed to get just two points in their last five matches. Mazatlan will play at home, which would usually be considered an advantage, but the poor form has made the environment around the club really toxic. Pumas UNAM, however, haven’t had great success on their visits to the Estadio de Mazatlan – their last win at the stadium was in 2018.
Pumas UNAM finished in 16th place on the Liga MX table last season, so things could always get worse. They’ll go into this match as slight favorites because their upcoming opponents look hapless. There isn’t a lot between the two sides as far as head-to-head history is concerned – both sides have won two matches and drawn one. This has all the makings of a low-scoring tie, but we think Pumas UNAM will edge it by a goal.
The last meeting between the two sides ended in a 1-1 draw back in July 2022. Pumas UNAM got a late equalizer thanks to Nicolas Freire after Eduard Bello put Mazatlan up after the 75th minute. Pumas UNAM deserved a draw, at the very least, on the occasion after dominating most of the game.
They had 61% possession and took 20 shots to Mazatlan’s seven. Of course, Pumas UNAM were the home side, so they were expected to have a better share of possession and territory. Mazatlan did well to endure the onslaught and take the lead – they’ll need to show that spirit once again on Friday.
Mazatlan’s long wait for a point ended on Sunday after drawing 1-1 against Queretaro. Mazatlan weren’t great in this game – they managed just eight shots on goal and faced 16 despite having 57% of the possession, but they now have a little positive to hold onto before the game against Pumas UNAM.
Mazatlan have conceded over two goals a game this season, so keeping Querataro down to just one goal is also a plus. It remains to be seen if this point can lead to something greater, but it’s a good place to start. The home fans will also be more enthusiastic about the team’s chances heading into the game against Pumas UNAM, which should bode well.
Mazatlan were established in 2020 and are still trying to carve an identity in the league. Forming an identity with so many established clubs in the competition is difficult. They’ve competed in the Liga MX for three seasons, but it’s hard to figure out what Mazatlan’s long-term goal is.
They’ve not made inroads into the top half of the table since joining the league, but they haven’t been a stepping-stone for young players or a club with a distinct style of play, either. A club needs something going for them to attract players to the project, and they haven’t managed this yet.
They are languishing at the bottom of the table after a few lower-mid table finishes, which isn’t ideal. They can’t feel sorry for themselves and have to find a short-term solution to bring some pride back to the club. This game is a great chance to do that, as Pumas UNAM aren’t in great form.
Pumas UNAM suffered their fourth loss of the season on Saturday against Guadalajara in a 2-1 defeat. UNAM could consider themselves a bit unfortunate not to have got a single point from the game. They took 27 shots to Guadalajara’s 10 and had 59% of the possession, but Guadalajara didn’t really have to force the outcome after taking a 2-0 lead within 33 minutes.
Daniel Rios gave them a sixth-minute lead before Carlos Ernesto Cisneros made it 2-0. Pumas UNAM showed some fight to get one back in the 76th minute thanks to Juan Dinnenno’s strike but shot themselves in the foot when Diego de Olivera got sent off in added time.
This was the fourth time a Pumas UNAM player was sent off this season, which is an extraordinarily bizarre and worrying stat. It highlights the mood around the camp – the manager Rafael Puente Jr. and the senior players in the squad need to be held accountable for the indiscipline.
Something’s clearly not right when a team has been on the receiving end of four red cards so early into the season. The players and the staff need to resolve this quickly because it’s costing them a lot of points. There’s no doubt that this will also affect the harmony around the dressing room.
To not finish games with 11 men on four occasions is unacceptable. Pumas UNAM need to identify the issues and diagnose them before they can think about their tactics and gameplans for opponents.
Pumas UNAM are a side with a great history in the competition – they’ve won the Liga MX seven times and are held to a higher standard than most other teams. They haven’t performed in line with those standards in the last few seasons, and finished in 16th place in the Apertura – this is clearly hard for everyone at the club to take, but they shouldn’t be crumbling under the pressure as they have this season.
They’re not where they want to be, but so much of the recent damage is self-inflicted and avoidable. They played well for large parts of the game against Guadalajara and have to remind themselves of the positives from that match before heading into the game against Mazatlan.
Mazatlan are no world beaters, and this game presents Pumas UNAM with a fantastic opportunity to recover their season. They clearly have the better players – all they have to do is be a little patient, and they’ll almost certainly leave Estadio de Mazatlan with three points. Manager Rafael Puente Jr. has to do this quickly or face the consequences.
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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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