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Match preview: Cruz Azul vs Pumas

Pumas UNAM v Chivas - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Cruz Azul and Pumas face the most important match of the season in their last regular game. The city rivals will face each other in a match that will possibly decide which team qualifies to the Liguilla and which will be playing in the repechaje. Pumas will come in at third place but with the problem that they will drop with a loss and might even do so with a tie because of the fact that Tigres and Monterrey are closing in fast. Cruz Azul meanwhile needs the victory to climb over Pumas and will also have the same problem of waiting for the results from the Northern teams.

Pumas’ season has been a total surprise. The team went from being in a lot of trouble after losing their coach the week before the season started to being one of the top teams all throughout the season. And yet they chose a bad time to stop getting results. With the season finishing Pumas got consecutive ties against Pachuca and Chivas, which caused other team to gain on them. Now they sit at third place with 29 points, the same number as fourth placed Cruz Azul and fifth placed Monterrey. They also have sixth placed Tigres close to them with 27 points. This means they are in a must win situation in their final game of the season. They are also facing Cruz Azul, a rival team that has gotten the upper hand against them more so than even teams like America and Monterrey. Normally they wouldn’t be favored in this game and without defender Alan Mozo (who got red carded in their last game against Chivas), they look in trouble. Yet Cruz Azul has also gotten into sort of a slump, and will also be pressured more than Pumas as a tie will probably have them out of the Liguilla. Pumas has to improve a lot and their past performances against Pachuca and Chivas will not be enough against Cruz Azul.

Cruz Azul came into the season as one of the favorites. After finishing in first place in the last tournament before it was called off by COVID-19, Cruz Azul started wonderfully by winning the preseason Copa GNP por Mexico. During the current season they were always in the top spots until they started a slump that included key losses against Toluca, Tigres, and Monterrey. Now the team is almost out of the Liguilla zone and will need a win against Pumas to get to a top four finish. Cruz Azul has had the upper hand against Pumas in recent seasons, and they have the better squad. Still they historically have fallen in prime games like the one on Saturday.

Pumas and Cruz Azul will face each other in a key match and both teams have chosen the worst time to drop their level of play. Both teams will need a result and be wary of the threat from the Northern teams who are closing in on them. Pumas will have a great opportunity to get back to their success against a Cruz Azul team that has constantly been the better team when they meet in recent seasons, regardless of their form. Cruz Azul meanwhile will face a tough Pumas side and with the added pressure of needing the win more than Pumas. Both teams will be going in knowing what they need to do as the Chivas vs Monterrey and the Tigres vs Atlas game will be played before their match. It seems that for both sides, the Liguilla starts on Saturday.

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