Game: Club de Fútbol Universidad Nacional A. C. vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Sunday, February 19th
Time: 10:00 AM Pacific, 12:00 PM Central, 1:00 PM Eastern
Venue: Estadio Olímpico (Ciudad de México, D.F.)
Tijuana (4W 0D 2L) heads to Mexico City to face Pumas (3W 1D 2L) this weekend in their only Sunday match of the Clausura. Both teams are coming off of their first lost in their last five matches, with Xolos losing at home 2-1 against Necaxa while Pumas were blanked on the road 2-0 by Monterrey.
After a good start, Pumas seems to be in a bit of disarray. Goalkeeper and talisman Alejandro “Pikolín” Palacios was taken out of the January 29 match against Necaxa with a calf injury, and it’s not certain if he will play against Xolos or not. Pumas will also be without forward Jesús Gallardo, who was sent off in the 85th minute on a straight red card.
In their last outing Xolos dominated the run of play for most of the match, however Necaxa were able to capitalize on the few chances they were granted by Tijuana. Although held scoreless for the majority of the match by Los Rayos, Xolos’ offense is among the most dangerous in Liga MX. Even after the one goal performance last week, they’re still three goals up on the next closest team. If they do a better job of finishing their chances, it will be a long day for Pumas.
Don’t count Pumas out though. Their defense is strong, with center backs Gerardo Alcoba and Darío Verón forming a solid base for Alan Mendoza and Josecarlos van Rankin to play as two-way full backs, jumping into the attack when the opportunity presents itself. This will be a real test for Damián Pérez and Paul Arriola as well as the Xolos center backs. Pumas likes to switch fields on runs up the pitch, adding another layer of pressure on opposing defenses.
Club Tijuana lost just their second match of the season last time out against a surprising Necaxa side, losing 2-1 at home. The loss moved them into second place and point behind current table toppers Toluca. That defeat to Necaxa also ended a four match winning streak, and against capital club Pumas UNAM, Tijuana will look to get back to winning ways and regain the top spot in Liga MX.
Meanwhile, Pumas find themselves two seasons removed from their Aperatura final against Tigres in 2015, and are struggling to hang on to a Liguilla spot, as they sit in seventh. Their last two matches have also resulted in dropped points — drew Pachuca 1-1 and 2-0 to Monterrey.
One of Pumas’ biggest problems this campaign is the fact that they play in a lot of close matches. Of the six played thus far, three of them have had more than a two goal advantage, and of those three, two of them ended in defeats.
Tijuana has the league’s best offense, having scored 13 times to date. Their goal recorded is enlarged due to the 6-2 drubbing of Pachuca in the second match of the Clausura. Los Xolos also have a plethora of goal scorers, with four scoring more than two goals this campaign.
Pumas will have their supporters behind them in this one, but the biggeest question heading into Sunday afternoon will be whether or not the home side will be able to contain such Tijuana’s attacking prowess