Necaxa will make their home and Liga MX debut on Saturday as they take on a Pumas team that is reeling after a bad start in both fronts. Pumas was heavily favored to win their home opener against Veracruz but had a goal disallowed and failed to score in a goalless stalemate. They then proceeded to lose in their Copa MX opener against Atlas. Necaxa meanwhile will have their first game of the season after their opener against America was postponed, making them the only teams that haven’t yet played in Liga MX. In Copa Mx, Necaxa beat San Luis in an away win that puts them in a prime spot to qualify to the next round.
After a season that surprised most experts, it all went crashing down when Pumas faced America in the Semifinals of the Liguilla. Against their biggest rival, Pumas lost and went out. While this was expected, what wasn’t was the way they did, by losing 6-1 and getting embarrassed. The loss was a tough pill to swallow for their fans and it might overshadow a season where they finished third while not having the third best squad. The start of the season might show that Pumas wasn’t over it. After an offseason where they didn’t get a single addition and lost Matias Alustiza, fans came in thinking the limited squad from the season before came in worse to this one. They then proceeded to only get a tie at home in their opener against a Veracruz team that has one of the weakest squads in Mexico. Then in their midweek Copa MX clash, they lost against Atlas. While both teams had mostly youth players, without any additions Pumas was said to depend a lot on their youth players coming up. Those players left a lot to be desired on Tuesday. Pumas now will hope to start a repeat of last season where it was their away record that helped the team finish third.
Necaxa will look for a rematch after a disappointing season. A lot was expected after getting a young promising manager in Michel Leaño but the management wasn’t patient with him and fired him in the middle of the season. After the firing, the team became a disaster and instead of a fix, it went the opposite way. Management did even worse in the offseason as they sent their best player Victor Davila to Pachuca, as well as other key players like Dieter Villalpando. For the Saturday’s game, they might rely on two of their big additions with a Pumas past: new coach Guillermo Vasquez and forward Eduardo Herrera. Herrera will also hope to have his personal rematch after coming back to Mexico from a spell in Glasgow Rangers to Santos and having a terrible season. Herrera already scored for Necaxa against San Luis and will want to do so against the team where he came up and had his most success.
Last season, Necaxa defeated future champion America at home, so it’s not impossible that they could do the same against Pumas. The Universitarios, though, will need to bounce back as not to go into a negative tailspin and enter an early season crisis.
Date: Saturday, January 12
Time: 7:00pm Pacific, 9:00pm Central, 10:00pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Victoria, Aguascalientes, México