BRIDGEVIEW IL - JULY 17: Mario Antonio Palacios #3 of Pumas UNAM kicks the ball up the field against Monarcas Morelia during a SuperLiga 2010 match at Toyota Park on July 17 2010 in Bridgeview Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
The first two weeks have gone by, and even though early, the Apertura 2011 is looking to be a promising tournament. We just finished watching week 2 of the season and week 3 is already upon us. Jornada 3 comes at midweek, with six matches taking place on Wednesday, in order to make way for the FIFA dates of August 10th and 11th. In what many consider the match of the round, two undefeated teams -- Pumas UNAM and Monterrey -- go head to head in Estadio Olimpico Universitario on Wednesday night. Both Pumas and Monterrey have looked great in their first two games, with each team winning a match at home and away. Monterrey has been the team with the most goals so far this season, scoring eight, while Pumas are the only team that has not conceded a single goal. On Wednesday, something has to give.
Pumas have relied on their youth squads for many seasons now, allowing their younger players to have a chance to participate in the first team. This method, which only a selected few in Mexican futbol use, has given Pumas positive results. The reigning champion of last year’s season has shown that they are ready for another run at the title in the Apertura. Even with the release of important players like Israel Castro, Leandro Augusto, and Jehu Chiapas in the offseason, Pumas has given the confidence to their youth, who have led the team to two wins in the first two games.
Monterrey has also shown the league they might be strong contenders for this season’s title. The attack of Neri Cardozo, Humberto Suazo, and Cesar Delgado has been a working trio for Monterrey. Monterrey is not known for being a strong team away from home, though, and going into CU (Ciudad Universitaria) will be a difficult task. Monterrey has not been able to win in CU since the Clausura 2005. Monterrey was also eliminated by Pumas in last year’s liguilla quarterfinals, as Pumas went on to become champions
Due to injury, both teams are still missing a player. For Monterrey, Mexican International, Aldo De Nigris has missed the first two games of the season. Though many thought he would be making the bench in last week’s win over Xolos de Tijuana, De Nigris remained in rehabilitation and is not expected to make his return until week 5 against San Luis. As for Pumas, Mexican forward Juan Carlos Cacho, who missed the match against Morelia, is expected to miss three more weeks due to injury. It is possible Pumas fans will see Cacho in week 5 (vs. Santos) or week 6 (vs. Puebla).
This game promises to be an entertaining match-up, and many have labeled it as the game of the week. Though Monterrey has looked strong in attack, they have showed some weakness on their backline. Pumas, on the other hand, has shown a very strong defense. Pumas may have only scored three goals in two matches, but they have been in full control of both games, earning two victories. The slight advantage here is for the home team, as Pumas has always shown supremacy at home, but Monterrey comes into this game wanting to break their bad streak in Ciudad Universitaria.
Pumas UNAM vs. Monterrey kicks off at 10pm eastern (9pm local time in Mexico, D.F.) on Wednesday, and can be seen in the United States on Telemundo.