America look set to clinch their Semifinal spot and Pumas hope for a miracle as the second leg of their match takes place on Saturday at the Estadio Azteca. America crushed Pumas 4-1 in the first leg at Pumas´Olimpico Universitario Stadium and seem to have one foot set in the semifinals. While a Pumas win definitely looks to be a possibility (they have recently played better against America at the Azteca than at their home), the chances to turn things around look almost impossible. Pumas needs to win by 4 goals or by just 3 as long as they score 5. Meanwhile, America’s coach Miguel Herrera will have to make sure his team is situated as not to have a repeat of the time Tigres went up and defeated America 4-1 (after America had won the 1st leg in Monterrey, 3-1) and eliminated them from the Liguilla in 2005.
Pumas and America was always the most anticipated of all the games set to be played in the Quarterfinals of the Liguilla, but few people ever expected things to do the way they did, especially Pumas fans. A lot of Pumas fans were happy when they tied against Queretaro and were set to face their rival and not the supposedly stronger Monterrey. Pumas had a false sense of security after a pick up in play in the two games prior to the Queretaro match that sent Pumas to the Liguilla. But more so it was based on America playing the poorest it had all season in the final games of the season, not only of Liga MX but also in CONCACAF. It was a rude awakening then when America took the lead in the first minute of play and then proceded to totally dominate the game. While a bad penalty call definitely had an influence on the game, the fact of the matter was that America’s win was justified and Pumas is now almost knocked out. To make matter worse, conflict was seen between defender Alejandro Arribas and Marcelo Diaz, and then later with Arribas and the Pumas fans. Video surfaced of Arribas making obscene signs to the Pumas fans, who were also obscenely lambasting the players. It seems everything is topsy-turvy in Pumas’s side, which definitely doesn’t help their chances on Sunday.
America cruised to a win away to Pumas and will definitely have the upper hand on Saturday. The main thing for them is not to drop enough into giving Pumas a chance. Things won’t be easy against a Pumas team that knows they have to give it their all to get through or even to clean their image. Pumas will be playing like their lives depend on it and America has shown to really take their foot off the pedal when things are set. Against Saprissa in the CONCACAF Champions league, winning the first leg by four goals meant they walked through to a 1-1 draw. America might be set to rest some of their players but they must be cautious against a better team with a bigger rivalry.
You can never know in football. Although things look nearly done, bigger leads have fallen. That said, the fact of the matter is that unless Pumas makes a historic performance, maybe their best ever, or they have luck on their side, America should be able to advance. At the end of the day, Pumas might rue not getting a better result at home in their last two games.
Date: Saturday, May 5
Time: 5:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Central, 8:00pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
TV: Univision (US - Spanish), Univision Deportes Network (US - Spanish), Canal 5 Televisa (Mexico), TDN (Mexico)
Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription)