Pumas are a win away from qualifying to the Liguilla. The Universitarios got two incredible wins, at home against Puebla and away to Santos, and are now in the Liguilla zone. They also face a rival that might be suited to a win, as Queretaro barely escaped relegation and were one of the first teams eliminated from the Liguilla. Pumas, though, has shown inconsistency before, and their season debacle started against a similar rival, when they lost to Veracruz at home. It will not be easy, as it never is, but Pumas has a golden opportunity on Sunday.
Pumas’ season has been a true roller coaster. They started with a hot streak that had the team on top of the table and many thinking they were the best team in the League. Then a home loss to Veracruz, who was the lead candidate to be relegated at that time, sent their season into a tailspin. Pumas kept either losing or barely getting draws, going from first to out of the Liguilla qualification zone. It looked like Pumas’s season was going to be another failure but a heroic victory at home against Puebla seemed to turn things around. While Puebla was also struggling, it was the game conditions (down a man after a Formica red card) and a hat-trick from star Nico Castillo that made Pumas bounce back in the game and win 4-2. A week later they went to Torreon and faced second-place Santos. With a great performance from goalkeeper Alfredo Saldivar and the offensive spark from Chileans Castillo and Marcelo Diaz, Pumas was able to shock Santos and get a 2-1 win. Pumas went all the way to sixth and the season means that they are in the Liguilla zone and facing a rival that is out of the playoff picture.
Pumas is definitely being benefited schedule-wise, in facing Queretaro and at home. Queretaro is a team that has played below the level expected from the squad, but they have one of the best goalkeepers in Liga MX in Tiago Volpi. Pumas has suffered against teams with notable goalkeepers, a recent example being Necaxa’s Marcelo Barovero. Also, news about America wanting to acquire Nico Castillo might destabilize the team, but mostly the fans. That said, Pumas must take the opportunity they earned because failing to do so will certainly unravel the team and once again make the season a bust.
Date: Sunday, April 29
Time: 10:00am Pacific, 12:00pm Central, 1:00pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Universitario, Mexico City, Mexico
TV: Univision(US-Spanish), Univision Deportes Network (US - Spanish), Canal de las Estrellas (Mexico), UnivisionTDN (Mexico)
Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription)