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Pumas UNAM vs Cruz Azul: Defense Still Needs A Lot Of Work

Written by: Nikhil Kalro
Updated October 14, 2022
12 min read
  • Pumas UNAM will take on Cruz Azul this Sunday at the Estadio Olímpico de Universitario
  • Pumas UNAM have won once in their last five matches in the Liga MX
  • Cruz Azul have got just two wins in their last five Liga MX matches

Pumas UNAM vs Cruz Azul Odds

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Match Result Odds
Pumas +110
Draw +230
Cruz Azul +235

Pumas UNAM vs Cruz Azul Pick

Pumas UNAM to win

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Pumas Unam Vs Cruz Azul 2022 09 18

Pumas UNAM vs Cruz Azul Prediction

This is a match between two Liga MX sides that are languishing towards the bottom of the table. Both sides could really use the points with UNAM currently in 15th place with 14 points and Cruz Azul in 13th place with 15 points on board.

The two sides have contested each 25 times with Cruz Azul hoping to maintain that superior record that includes 11 wins, seven losses and seven draws. There is only one point between the two sides, which is why it’s a little hard to call it but Pumas UNAM have got the home advantage in this match, which should ultimately count for something.

Previous Meetings

The last match between the two sides had some pretty big stakes back in April. It was the semifinals of the CONCACAF Champions League and ended in a 0-0 draw. However, the result helped UNAM as they were leading the first leg 2-1 and qualified for the final of the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time in their history. Juan Ignacio Dinenno’s brace in the first-leg did the job for both legs.

They had to hang on in this match with Arturo Ortiz getting sent off in the 63rd minute but managed to hold on in the end. They didn’t go on to win the finals, losing out to Seattle Sounders in the end, but it was a pretty special occasion, anyway. The match will be fresh in the memory of both sides and they’ll have to spur themselves up for the upcoming match by keeping the events of the day in mind.

Pumas UNAM Draw To Toluca

UNAM drew 2-2 to Toluca over the weekend in what was a highly-competitive match. Toluca had 62% of the possession but UNAM took 19 shots on goal compared to Toluca’s 13 with eight on target for the former and just five finding the target for the latter.

Unam took the lead thanks to a Juan Ignacio Dinenno strike in the 36th minute but Toluca were the better team in the second half and were rewarded with two goals in the 66th and 77th minute from Jean Meneses. UNAM had to wait till the very last minute to get their equalizer, Julio Gonzalez scoring six minutes into added time to give them a vital point and some much-needed belief away from home.

Home Form Has Been Patchy

UNAM won their last match at home 4-1 to Queretaro but they have not really used the crowd to their advantage this season. They have only managed 1.25 points per game at home and that needs to change quickly. Cruz Azul haven’t really been a force of nature this season and this is exactly the sort of game where winning should be considered a formality at home.

They’ve scored more goals away from home than at home, which highlights some of the problems they’ve faced at home this season. The match against Queretaro should send a marker to other teams and this would be a great opportunity to show to their fans that that game wasn’t a one-off.

Defense Hasn’t Been Too Bad

For a side that’s quite low down the table, they have not conceded as many goals as some of the teams around them and seven fewer than their upcoming opponents. They have an expected goals against per game of 1.50, which isn’t great but it’s the sort of record that can quickly be turned with a few tweaks to the defensive shape and organization.

Not to mention, their expected goals against at home is 1.37 per game, which should be enough to hold off the current variant of Cruz Azul.

Injuries And Suspensions

Defensive midfielder, Higor Meritao, will be out after sustaining a muscle injury last week. He should be back in two weeks. Left back, Jero Rodriguez, is also set to be on the sidelines till next week at the very least after suffering an ankle injury a little over a week ago.

Cruz Azul Get All Three Points Against Mazatlan

Cruz Azul got a fantastic victory against Mazatlan over the weekend, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Gonzalo Carneiro and a penalty from Angel Romero. They had their share of good fortune in the match with Mazatlan’s George Sandoval getting sent off in the 36th minute before being offered to add to their lead with the penalty that was gifted to them.

They showed a level of professionalism in that performance that has been lacking all season. The team has struggled to keep clean sheets all season, conceding more goals than any other side in the league. They have to use the confidence that they’d have gained from this game in the upcoming tie and the ties to come for the rest of the season.

Need To Improve Away From Home

Cruz Azul have got one of the worst records away from home this season but there isn’t a lot for them to fear when they go to the Estadio Olímpico de Universitario. As stated earlier, Pumas UNAM haven’t really made their home ground a fortress. They’ve got a win rate of 14% away from home and managed 0.71 points per game.

If they can’t get something against the likes of Pumas UNAM, who are a few places below them in the table at this moment in time, they are not going to do much better against the other sides. They need to approach this game with a positive mindset, get the right energy at the start of the game and suffer a little before they earn the right to play and get their forward players involved.

Defense Still Needs A Lot Of Work

The last game was brilliant for many reasons but despite getting a clean sheet, they remain the side with most goals conceded this season. They have conceded 31 so far, three more than the team that’s second on the goals conceded table. Their expected goals against a tally of 1.66 doesn’t suggest they have been unlucky either.

They just need to go back to basics, make sure their lines and the distance between those lines are tighter. They have scored more goals than Pumas UNAM this season, so the goals will come if they can do their job defensively. As the away side, they won’t really be expected to dominate proceedings in possession either. This is a great chance to enter the top half of the table for Cruz Azul.

Injuries And Suspensions

Right back, Juan Escobar, is going to be out for many months after suffering a cruciate ligament rupture towards the back end of last month.

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How to Watch Pumas UNAM vs Cruz Azul

Teams Pumas UNAM vs Cruz Azul
Location Estadio Olímpico de Universitario
Time Sunday, September 18 at 5:00 pm ET onwards
How to watch Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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Nikhil Kalro

681 Articles

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]

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