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Pick: Tigres UANL to win (-182)
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Tigres UANL are one of three sides who are undefeated in Clausura 2023. The campaign started off with two impressive back-to-back wins over title contenders Santos Laguna and defending champions CF Pachuca. Then came the two draws against Club Tijuana and Atletico de San Luis before their narrow victory over Cruz Azul last week.
Pumas UNAM also started their campaign with a win against FC Juarez but could not get past Santos Laguna. They bounced back with a resounding win against Club Leon before drawing their last two matches against Club Tijuana and Atlas FC.
The odds are in favor of Tigres UANL, considering not just their recent form but also their squad strength. Tigres UANL will win this encounter and establish themselves as one of the top contenders for the title this season.
The head-to-head stats also favor the hosts in this encounter. In 31 Liga MX clashes between the two sides, Tigres UANL have won 16, while Pumas UNAM have only won seven, with their last one coming in Clausura 2018.
Another astonishing record comes at the Estadio Universitario de Nuevo Leon, where these two have met 15 times and Pumas UNAM have only won once. That victory came in Clausura 2014 when a ten-men Tigres UANL side went down to a Martin Bravo-led comeback win for Pumas UNAM.
Four of the last five Liga MX matches between the two sides have ended in draws, including two games at the Estadio Universitario de Nuevo Leon. Tigres UANL emerged victorious against Pumas UNAM in Clausura 2022.
CF Pachuca clinched their seventh Liga MX title in the Apertura 2022 season. Tigres UANL will be out on the hunt to nab their eighth title and first after Clausura 2019. The club’s first strike of intent came in the transfer market.
Their transfer strategies not only strengthened their own squad but simultaneously weakened two strong teams in Santos Laguna and CF Pachuca. Tigres UANL roped in Santos Laguna’s talisman Fernando Gorriaran and then signed CF Pachuca’s linchpin Nicolas Ibanez.
Apart from that, the central part of the pitch was bolstered after the on-loan arrival of Diego Lainez from Real Betis. In the previous window, Tigres UANL also signed former Watford defender Samir, who has been rock solid in defense.
As mentioned earlier, Tigres UANL have an amazing record against Pumas UNAM in Liga MX. However, once the teams are out on the pitch, all past records go out the window. But that still will not change the fact that Pumas UNAM have not beaten Tigres UANL in eight previous attempts.
Four out of the last eight games between the sides have gone in favor of Tigres UANL, while the other four have ended in draws. The last time Pumas UNAM beat Tigres UANL, was in Apertura 2018. Goals from Carlos Gonzalez, Felipe Mora, and Matias Alustiza clinched a 3-1 victory that day.
Tigres UANL’s veteran full-back Javier Aquino suffered a thigh injury towards the end of January. The injury has ruled the 32-year-old out till the end of this month. This season, Aquino touched a new milestone after crossing the 300 appearances mark. However, Tigres UANL are still staunch without the services of Aquino down the flank.
Another absentee is David Ayala. The midfielder has been sidelined till April this year after breaking his knee cap last month. However, the absence of Ayala has not been felt, especially after the stellar recruitments in this past transfer window. The rest of the Tigres UANL squad is fit and gunning to go.
In this fixture, the scales tip heavily in favor of Tigres UANL. However, that does not mean Pumas UNAM have a bad team. The visitor’s squad is capable of carrying this team to the advanced stages of the playoffs.
Pumas UNAM are no strangers to the Liga MX title either as they have won it as many times as their next opponents. The only difference is that Pumas UNAM’s last title came 12 years ago, in Clausura 2011.
In the Apertura league phase, Pumas UNAM finished 16th in the league table after winning only two out of their 17 games. This time, they have already matched that tally after only five games. There has been a notable improvement in the performances this season
The biggest headache of Pumas UNAM will be the absence of two key players - Higor Meritao and Eduardo Salvio. Meritao was sent off in the side’s last match against Atlas FC and will serve his suspension in this crunch encounter with Tigres UANL.
On the other hand, Salvio has picked up a hamstring injury, making the team and its fans put their hands up against their foreheads. The winger has been ruled out at least till the end of this month and will miss some crucial games.
Both these players played an influential role last season and this season as well. Meritao and Salvio have contributed majorly to the improved performances of Pumas UNAM this season and now both will miss one of the biggest matches of the season.
After scoring four goals and assisting one in five games, Jian Dinenno is Pumas UNAM’s top scorer and talisman this season so far. In the Apertura season, Dinenno finished as Pumas UNAM’s top scorer after finishing with a tally of six goals.
This season, he has already nabbed four and can surely surpass last season’s tally. However, in the game against Tigres UANL, the pressure will be on the Argentinian. The 28-year-old will not be flanked by Salvio and will not have Meritao behind him in the midfield.
In addition to that, Dinenno also missed a crucial penalty in the last game, which could have given Pumas UNAM the win, but they were eventually reduced to ten men and then conceded in the final few minutes, dropping a couple of points in the process.
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● Teams: Tigres UANL vs Pumas UNAM
● Location: Estadio Universitario de Nuevo Leon
● Time: Saturday, February 11 at 8:05 pm ET
● How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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