A city derby brings all the attention on two teams who are in different paths toward the end of the season. Cruz Azul has gotten things right on track, and after a terrible start of the season that had many fans asking for Coach Pedro Caixinha’s head, they are right in the middle of the fight for a Liguilla. Meanwhile, Pumas will need a miracle to get to the Liguilla, as it seems there will be no repeat of their Semifinal finish last season after their firing of coach David Patiño earlier in the year didn’t turn out to be the solution they hoped for.
Cruz Azul’s season has been a roller coaster ride. After a great tournament that finished with a disappointing loss in the final against America, their biggest rival, Cruz Azul’s had a tournament filled with injuries and disappointing results. Among many things, fans weren’t happy with Caixinha’s results, style of play, fights with reporters, as well as offensive comments towards Cruz Azul’s women football team.
Suddenly, when things looked more grim, Cruz Azul started getting results, enough to get them into the Liguilla zone, though their last result was a 0-0 draw with Club America in a game that failed to live up to expectations.
Unlike Cruz Azul, Pumas did fire their coach David Patiño and hired Bruno Marioni, who gave a boost to Pumas but it was short lived. Bad results led Pumas to concentrate on the Copa MX but that ended in failure when they lost to Ascenso MX team FC Juarez in the Semifinals. To make matters worse, Marioni had a fight with a fan after the game in what started a streak of bad behavior from the coach. Pumas bounced back last week by getting a victory over Xolos at home but Marioni got red carded after a scuffle with a Xolos defender and will miss the Cruz Azul game because of it. They will need to bounce back but they might surprise Cruz Azul, given their best game of the season was when they defeated America, their other city rival, during the regular season.
Cruz Azul vs Pumas isn’t a clasico but it’s as close to it as any game with a very strong rivalry. Sparks should fly, especially with both teams playing something important (even if Pumas will need a miracle to qualify as they also depend on other team’s results). Still, Cruz Azul has a huge advantage in coaching regularly, even more so when the Pumas coach is suspended for the game. Pumas will look for the surprise but it should be clear they are the underdogs in this match.
Date: Sunday, April 20
Time: 05:00pm Pacific, 07:00pm Central, 08:00pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Azteca, Ciudad de México, México
TV: Univision Deportes (US-Español), Univision (US-Español), Canal 5 Televisa (Mexico), TDN (Mexico)
Listings via LiveSoccerTV.com