America will hope to build on their advantage, while Pumas will hope to turn things around as they face each other in the Second leg of their Semifinal clash. Pumas tied America, doing a lot better than in past games against them, but America got an away goal and also have the regular season table advantage for their home leg.
Their 1-1 draw in the First Leg was a fair result, with both teams having opportunities. For Pumas, it was perhaps their best performance against a Club América side coached by Miguel Herrera since their 0-0 draw in their first meeting of the year. That performance, however, was followed by a Liguilla meeting in which they lost drastically at home 4-1 and then a 2-1 defeat in the return leg. They then met in the regular season of the 2018 Apertura and tied 2-2 in a game in which America tied in the final minute even when they were down two players because of a pair of red cards.
On Thursday, Pumas went down 1-0 but had good chances that were saved by America’s keeper Agustin Marchesin. They got the equalizer in the second half and were lucky when their keeper Alfredo Saldivar saved a penalty kick from Roger Martinez.
That said, America still have the advantage in this Second Leg. They have an away goal and a coach that has never lost against Pumas with America, though he has been heavily criticized during the last few weeks. Against Toluca in the Quarterfinals, they let the Diablos Rojos come back to tie the in the First Leg before almost allowing them to come back from a 3-0 deficit in the Second Leg (the game finished 3-2 but Toluca’s Enrique Trivero missed a wide open header that could have tied it and sent Toluca through). Once again, Pumas became another team to come back against them and it was mostly because of Marchesin and the post that Pumas didn’t score the winner.
Where Miguel Herrera does deserve some kudos is in starting young forward Diego Lainez, who scored America’s goal and was trouble for Pumas all game until he was subbed out. Herrera might have to adjust again in the Second Leg and bring on Henry Martin, considering America’s regular strikers are struggling at the moment.
America won’t have an easy time against Pumas. The city rival teams always bring it against them and so far they have shown to be a very competitive side with a lot of physicality and attitude. Coach David Patiño has picked it up in the last games and will hope to do the same against an Herrera who seems to be slipping. At the end however, America is at home and they will also bring the fight against their rivals. Let us not forget they have double the advantage coming in. It will be an interesting clash and should be a physical tough game with lots of fireworks.
Date: Sunday, December 9
Time: 4:45pm Pacific, 6:45pm Central, 7:45pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, México
TV: Univision (US-Spanish), Univision Deportes Network (US-Spanish), Canal De Las Estrellas (Mexico), TDN (Mexico)