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Cruz Azul vs. Pumas UNAM: 2016 Liga MX Apertura Preview

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Pumas faces a tough visit to their city rivals in the return of coach Francisco Palencia to Cruz Azul.

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In their first away game of the season, Pumas travel a couple of miles to face their city rivals Cruz Azul, which marks coach Francisco Palencia's return "home". Palencia debuted and for years became a star at Cruz Azul until problems with the club board forced him to depart and in a very controversial fashion.

This fight led him to say months later that Cruz Azul wasn't his home because "in my mom's house they never closed the door to me after I returned". In a way, this divorce with Cruz Azul may have helped him integrate better with Pumas, to the point that their is not much animosity about  his Cruz Azul history at the club.

In terms of the match, Pumas comes from a good win against Chivas but the level of play left plenty to be desired. Not only did the goal come off an own goal by Chivas defender Jair Pereira, but the only reason Chivas didn't tie the match was because of their inexplicable decision to allow midfielder Carlos Alberto "Gullit" Peña to take a penalty kick instead of expert-taker Nestor Calderon. Peña went on to miss his third straight penalty kick in Liga MX.

Cruz Azul, on the other hand, arrive to this game after a disappointing 0-0 draw with Necaxa, who were making their return to Liga MX. However, they did have a Copa MX win against Ascenxo MX's Coras at home during the midweek, and they have some players coming back from injury, including their forward Jorge Benitez. On paper, they also have a superior team to Pumas, but they might struggle for cohesiveness this early in the season.

Historically, Pumas has had better results in recent years away to Cruz Azul. Being in the same city also guarantees that there will be many Pumas fans in the stands. Unfortunately, Gerardo Alcoba is doubtful to play because of an injury that also kept him out of the Chivas game.  It will be tough and the game looks like it might be a good game but that might be destined for a draw.

Last Meeting

Pumas UNAM 2-2 Cruz Azul - March 6, 2016 – Liga MX

A second half Eduardo Herrera penalty helped Pumas UNAM rescue a draw at home.