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This could be a close one between some of the more noteworthy clubs in Liga MX. While Pumas will be looking to re-enter the playoff conversation, Tigres will be eyeing another step up the league table to a more favorable position.
There’s no lack of worries or weaknesses regarding either team, but if we’re keeping track, Pumas would, unfortunately, be leading that tally.
Despite the fact that Tigres have some matters that they must also solve, they’ll inevitably have another promising finish to the season before taking charge in the playoffs. There’s too much experience within the squad, and looking into the future, it’s not out of the question to assume that this could be the last full season for their long-time manager.
Tigres for the win (+125)
|Pumas vs Tigres Information|
|What||Pumas vs Tigres|
|Where||Estadio Olimpico Universitario (Mexico City, Mexico)|
|When||Sunday, April 18th at 1:00pm ET|
|How to Watch||Univision, TUDN|
Late into Wednesday night’s Liga MX match between Tigres and Juarez, it looked as if the “Tigres will eventually figure it out” narrative would soon be dead.
What I mean by that narrative is an assumption that regardless of how poorly Tigres start a season, they always find their momentum in the right moments ahead of a title chase. We’ve seen it numerous times beforehand. Regardless of their long list of imperfect regular seasons, no club in the last decade has won more Liga MX championships than Tigres.
That said, 80 minutes into their mid-week match, Tigres found themselves down 2-1 and just outside of a playoff position.
Online, criticism came piling in from furious supporters who were wondering why their club had procrastinated more than usual when it came to clinching necessary wins. Skeptics began to voice their disapproval of veteran manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti, who has quickly started to lose the faith of many die-hard supporters.
And yet, everything seemed to return to normal within a matter of minutes. Thanks to two quick responses from Diego Reyes and Nico Lopez, Tigres escaped Juarez with a 3-2 win, three points, a playoff-worthy position, and most importantly, they also left with the sense that their late-season surge narrative was still alive.
Up next? A Pumas squad that are far from dependable.
Why not Pumas? If Tigres are given credit for their late comeback against Juarez the other night, then why shouldn’t Pumas — who are undefeated in four games — be given some of the positive spotlight as well?
The issue is, although they have two wins and two draws in their last four, those results are all misleading. They drew 1-1 with Juarez, they beat a nine-man San Luis 1-0, they were losing 2-0 to Pachuca before scoring twice in injury time to make it 2-2, and they scored a late-winner against Necaxa to make it 1-0.
And as for those two wins, they’ve accounted for half of their victories so far this season…
What truly makes Tigres different from Pumas, and different from most other Liga MX clubs for that matter, is their depth.
And when everything goes wrong, Ferretti can rely on backups and/or fringe players that would easily be the top names in most other squads in the region.
Finally given minutes for the first time since March 13th, 22-year-old Leonardo Fernandez was thrilling for Tigres with two assists in their latest win. On the receiving end, occasional starter Nico “Diente” Lopez was superb with his two goals that helped solidify the three points.
These aren’t go-to starters for Ferretti, but after impressing in their latest win, both should be raring to go against Pumas this Sunday.
It’s never a good thing when your goalkeeper is looking like the best player on your team. With fewer goals scored than any other Liga MX club so far this season, the only thing that has kept Pumas somewhat relevant in the 2021 Clausura is goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera.
Were it not for the 38 saves that he’s needed to make in net this season, Pumas would be much further down the league table.
And keep in mind, since the start of the previous 2020 Apertura tournament, no Liga MX team has launched more shots than Tigres.
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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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