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Despite Pumas UNAM being the home side, Club America is the overwhelming favorite heading into this tie. Pumas UNAM can still qualify for the playoffs but they need a lot of luck on the way, and it has to start with a win in this match, which is easier said than done.
Club America have been the strongest side in the league for over half-a-decade, and are set for another strong league finish, so Pumas UNAM couldn’t have asked for a worse opponent in a must-win game. The home advantage isn’t the only positive for Pumas UNAM heading into this; they’ve also won their last two league matches quite comfortably, so they have everything they could ask for before such a difficult game.
The temptation to pick them might be too strong because of the highly rewarding odds, but Club America are not the sort of club that lose focus easily. A draw looks far more probable, but it’s most likely going to be a regular victory for Club America.
Club America have a better head-to-head record against most teams in the league, so it’s no surprise that the same applies in this instance. However, a draw is the most common result in matches between these two sides. The two sides have played out 13 draws in 28 games. Club America have won 10 and lost five.
Pumas UNAM can take heart from that record because the record is better than what most Liga MX teams have against Club America. Pumas UNAM also beat Club America 2-0 in the last meeting between the two sides in December 2022. Club America, in their defense, played a weakened squad as it was a cup game.
Club America won the last league meeting between the two sides in August 2022. Diego Valdes Contreras (38’), Jonathan Rodriguez (57’), and Alejandro Zendejas (78’) were the three goalscorers on the day. Club America were pretty comfortable throughout the game and deserved all three points. They took 19 shots to UNAM’s 10 and had 53% of the ball.
Pumas UNAM have found form out of nowhere in the last week with two 3-1 victories. They were on a four-game losing streak before the first 3-1 over San Luis, which makes this late charge for the playoffs spots all the more fascinating. They got off to the perfect start with a goal in the game's first minute; Juan Dinenno was the man on the scoresheet. Carlos Gonzalez brought them back to earth by slotting home his penalty in the 31st, but Cesar Huerta helped UNAM get a lead for the second time in the game just seven minutes later.
Eduardo Salvio scored from the spot himself to make it 3-1 before the half. Toluca looked stunned, and Jean Meneses made matters worse by getting sent off in the 60th minute. Pumas UNAM strolled to victory and now have an outside shot at entering the playoffs.
New manager Antonio Mohamed deserves a lot of credit for turning Pumas UNAM into a cohesive unit quickly. The team was a mess under Rafael Puente Jr; under his management, the team ended seven games without 11 outfield players.
The board must also take responsibility for not making a change earlier in the season when it was obvious that the players were no longer taking on his instructions. The team looks sharper and united now, but they might have left it too late. Even on current form, beating a team like Club America is no easy task, and doing so with the pressure to qualify for a playoff spot will be too big an ask. Not to mention, qualification is not entirely in their hands now.
Club America survived an early score to get all three points against Cruz Azul over the weekend. Uriel Antuna opened the scoring for the home side in the 12th minute for Cruz Azul, but Club America get their house in order before the half ended to win 3-1. Alejandro Zendejas scored the equalizer in the 42nd minute before Michael Estrada got sent off just before the half-time whistle to give Club America a one-man advantage.
Zendejas got his second of the night just two minutes after half-time before Henry Martin capped things off in the 63rd minute to make it 3-1. Club America strolled through the game after Estrada’s sending-off.
Club America toom 16 shots to Cruz Azul’s seven and had 62% of the possession; it was a comfortable victory in the end. The win took Club America to second place on the league table with two games to go. They’re four points off Monterrey, but with just two league games to go, they’re unlikely to finish the league season in first place.
Club America didn’t have the best of starts to the season, but they’re finishing it in style. No team has scored more than their 34 goals this season, with only one other side breaking the 30-goal mark.
The defense has been a bigger issue this season, and they haven’t fully solved it yet, but it has looked a bit better in recent games. The win over Monterrey last week has given the entire club a huge lift. There was a feeling that Monterrey were, indisputably, the best side in the league, but Club America’s recent performances have suggested otherwise.
They look like the team to beat again, but it’s not all perfect. The defense was also an issue in the last game and was at fault for the first goal of the game, but it became hard to ascertain just how big an issue it was because Cruz Azul played with 10 men for half the game. The aim for the next two league ties has to be clean sheets; it’s the best way to prepare for the playoffs.
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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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