ATLANTA - JULY 28: A fan of Club America plays two vuvuzelas during the match against Manchester City during the 2010 Aaron's International Soccer Challenge match at Georgia Dome on July 28 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Club America and Cruz Azul both look like Liguilla teams in this tournament, but like many of the other teams near the top of the 2010 Apertura, both find themselves in positions where that Liguilla spot is nowhere near certain. America are lucky to find themselves in a very weak Group 2, significantly increasing their chances of qualification, but Cruz Azul are in a group with mighty Pumas UNAM and surprising Monarcas Morelia.
The fact that America and Cruz Azul find themselves behind these two teams and UANL Tigres instead of Monterrey and Santos Laguna is surprising to say the least, but that's the Clausura for you. Those teams are still far from known, consistent quantities, so this Clasico Joven still represents an opportunity for both teams to climb up the table and work towards a top seed going into Liguilla.
America will be facing some serious injury problems going into the match, which usually wouldn't be a major problem since they have a very deep squad. However, all of their injuries have come in the center of midfield, leaving Carlos Reinoso to scramble for solutions. All of Israel Martinez, Pavel Pardo, and Rosenei look set to miss the match. The most likely of Reinoso's potential solutions seems to be youngster Jorge Reyes stepping up into a defensive midfield position while Daniel Montenegro is asked to occupy a bit of a box to box role in the middle, as opposed to his normal lack of defensive responsibilities.
Cruz Azul are a completely different story, as they will be coming into this game with a clean bill of health. This allows Enrique Meza to do a bit of squad rotation, something that he's done liberally during his reign as Cruz Azul's manager. Last week, he opted for a 4-4-1-1 formation that had Christian Gimenez playing behind Emmanuel Villa in a free role, while Javier Aquino and Cesar Villaluz occupied the two wings and Marcelo Palau partnered Gerardo Torrado in the center of midfield. First choice left winger Hugo Droguett is returning from injury and will almost certainly be on the be on the bench to start the match, as opposed to in the starting lineup. That means we'll likely see no changes from Cruz Azul, unless Meza wants to find a place for Gonzalo Pineda.
However, that doesn't mean that there will be absolutely no changes. The circumstances give Cruz Azul other options. Previously, Meza has lined up Cruz Azul in a 4-4-2 formation where Chaco Gimenez played on the right wing, but was allowed to cut inside and play a free role. Meza could opt for this setup if he feels like he needs both of Villa and Javier Orozco up top to create goals, especially with America's injuries. A three man center of midfield isn't going to be required to win the possession battle against a crippled America side.
Anything can happen in the Mexican Primera, and America could very well post an emphatic win. But, with their injuries in midfield, it seems likely that Cruz Azul should be able to get a good result out of this edition of the Clasico Joven, even if it is taking place at Estadio Azteca.