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It’s early days in the new 2021 Clausura season.
With only four weeks behind, numerous teams across the league are still stuck in somewhat of a “preseason mode” as they attempt to find their footing after a quick winter turnaround.
Both Monterrey and Pumas could be considered a part of this group of teams that aren’t playing at their very best just yet. Monterrey is so far undefeated but haven’t exactly been brilliant in the attack. As for Pumas, their young roster has produced some inconsistent performances.
Although Monterrey will be the favorites here, they have yet to be playing at the level that is expected of them under new manager Javier Aguirre. It should eventually click for them, but after watching their latest and unexciting 0-0 draw earlier this week against Puebla, it might take a bit more time for them to truly get going.
Both teams have yet to exit a preseason mode.
|Monterrey vs Pumas Information|
|What||Monterrey vs Pumas|
|Where||Estadio BBVA (Monterrey, Mexico)|
|When||Saturday, February 6th at 10:00 PM ET|
|How to Watch||FS2|
There’s no doubt that Monterrey could easily — and once again — become a title-contender this year.
They have one of the elite rosters in the league, an eye-catching amount of depth in their squad, and most importantly, a new manager who is one of the more well-respected figures in Mexican soccer. With Aguirre at the helm, anything seems possible for Monterrey — but they’ll need time.
Despite the fact that they have yet to lose any of their first three games of the year, few fans of the team have yet to truly be dazzled or impressed by the club that now has higher ambitions. And in defense of the team, it has only been two months since the announcement of Aguirre as the new manager.
There is a promise for Monterrey, but that said, Pumas also have some promise as well for the near future.
Aguirre’s first statement-making win might need to wait at least another week.
Up against Pumas, Monterrey will be facing a side that have given opportunities to a long list of numerous up-and-coming talents in Liga MX. On the sidelines, Pumas also have Andres Lillini — arguably the most impressive manager of the 2020 Apertura tournament.
Through an approach that is organized but also incredibly hard-working, Lillini has constantly helped make Pumas greater than the sum of their parts since last year. His man-management has also been impressive as he’s balanced out a strategy that provides constant starts for young academy products.
It’s a joy to see how it has unfolded, and yet, justifiable skepticism continues to surround his team in 2021.
While it’s easy to point to Pumas and make the argument that they could go toe-to-toe with Monterrey, it is a bit more of a stretch to convincingly state that they could get a win as well.
One of the downsides of Lillini’s reliance on young players is the occasional quiet performances that have been seen. Take for example their latest 0-0 draw with Atlas. Just two weeks after stealing headlines across Mexico for their 3-0 demolition of Mazatlan, Pumas looked second best in their dull 0-0 draw with Atlas last Sunday.
Zero goals, and notably, zero shots on target in 90 minutes. And while we’re at it, it was also their second game in a row without a goal.
Pumas can punch above their weight but are also known to occasionally struggle in front of the net — so Monterrey should be able to get the job done, right?
The odds do say yes, but Monterrey themselves have been lackluster in the final third. Two of their three goals to start the season have come through penalties, and in their recent 0-0 draw with Puebla, it was almost astonishing to see how many of their frontline players struggled with finishing their chances.
And if striker Rogelio Funes Mori (who has scored all three goals) has an off-game, the question remains: Who else will step up in the attack?
Like Pumas, there’s undoubtedly promise there, but Aguirre has yet to be given enough time to solve the Monterrey puzzle. And as for Pumas, they’ll need to be more reliable on a constant basis.
A tie awaits.
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Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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