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Pumas UNAM are playing this match at home, but Toluca are strong favorites heading into this tie. Pumas UNAM are playing this game for pride; they’re technically still in the race for the playoff spots but need to win by a big margin to stay in the race, which seems highly improbable.
Toluca are unbeaten in their last four league matches, whereas Pumas UNAM have lost four of their last five matches. In fact, they ended a four-game losing streak by beating San Luis last week. Of course, Toluca is a different proposition to San Luis, so it’s best to pick Toluca for this match. Everything we know about the two teams based on this season suggests that Toluca will win this match fairly comfortably.
There’s no separating the two sides regarding head-to-head records, which will be a bit gratifying for Pumas UNAM heading into this match. Both sides have won 11 of their 29 matches against each other, with the seven other matches ending in a draw. The matches are usually full of goals; 78 goals have been scored in those 29 matches, so we can expect another entertaining encounter.
The last league meeting between the two sides occurred in September 2022 and ended in a 2-2 draw. Pumas UNAM took the lead thanks to Juan Dinenno in the 36th minute before Toluca’s Jean Meneses came out firing in the second half with goals in the 66th and 77th minutes. Toluca had 62% of the possession but took just 13 shots to Pumas UNAM’s 19. Pumas UNAM were rewarded for their attacking endeavor with a late equalizer from Julia Jose Gonzalez.
It was a fair result, ultimately. If Pumas UNAM can conjure up a similar performance this weekend, their fans will be relatively pleased regardless of the result.
Pumas UNAM finally ended their four-game losing streak with a win over San Luis. Their playoff hopes seem all but dead because of the losing run, but they can use this result to end the season with some positives. The game had one of the strangest starts, with Jhon Murillo putting San Luis up within two minutes and Pumas UNAM’s Ulises Riva scoring the equalizer two minutes later.
Cesar Huerta put Pumas UNAM 2-1 up in the 31st minute, and the home side took this lead into half-time. The second half was quite tight, with San Luis getting multiple chances to level the scores, but they lacked a clinical edge to their game. Pumas UNAM confirmed the victory after Jorge Ruvalcaba scored a third three minutes into second-half stoppage time.
San Luis took 17 shots compared to Pumas UNAM’s 10, but Pumas UNAM took their foot off the gas after taking the lead in the 31st minute. They were worthy winners in the end.
Pumas UNAM ended seven games without 11 outfield players this season, which is ridiculous even by Liga MX’s history of indiscipline. It’s hard to develop a proper assessment of the team when they’re so undisciplined.
Former manager Rafael Puente Jr. has to take accountability for this because he was in charge of the side for most of the season. Pumas UNAM have appointed Antonio Mohamed since Puente Jr’s sacking; Mohamed has managed just two games so far this season. It’ll take Mohamed some time to get his ideas across, but the first thing he needs to do is unite the team and bring some authority into the dressing room. There have been no sending-offs in Mohamed’s two games in charge, which is a positive.
It was a surprise to see Rafael Puente. Jr last as long as he did this season. He clearly had no control of the dressing room halfway into the season. Of course, the players also need to take a lot of responsibility. It’ll be fascinating to see if Mohamed has the same issues as his predecessor in the last three games of the Liga MX season.
Two early goals from Edgar Ivan Lopez (8’) and Tiago Volpi (15’) helped Toluca get their eighth win of the season. Puebla’s Facundo Waller gave Toluca a scare, but the visitors managed to hold on to their lead and second place in the Liga MX standings.
Toluca weren’t their best selves for most of this tie; they conceded 21 shots, including nine on target, which isn’t a great sign. Of course, taking an early lead helps, but they weren’t fully in control of the game after taking the lead.
The best teams know how to take the sting out of the game after taking a lead, which is something they struggled with in this tie. They had 55% of the possession but took just 10 shots in the game. They must do a lot better if they want to win the title. For now, the three points will do.
Toluca’s concession of the shots in the match against Puebla wasn’t a one-off. They conceded two goals in their previous match against Tigres and three goals in the match before that against Club Tijuana.
This is a bit of a surprise, considering they had one of the best defensive records for most of the season. Manager Ignacio Ambriz needs to be careful because it seems like teams have found a weakness in their defensive scheme just ahead of the playoffs. It might make sense to add another defensive-minded player at full-back or midfield before they can find a solution to this issue. They still have one of the best defensive records in the league – they’ve conceded just 15 goals all season.
Despite some of the recent defensive issues, their attack has been as potent as ever. They’ve scored eight goals in their last three matches, including three each in the games against Tigres and Club Tijuana. It wouldn’t be the worst idea to compensate for some of their attacking prowess by adding some defensive solidity for the rest of the season.
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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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