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Match Preview: Pumas vs Cruz Azul

Pumas will host the Mexico City venue and will face a Cruz Azul team that has been severely hurt by COVID-19

Pumas UNAM v Atletico San Luis - Torneo Clausura 2020 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Pumas and Cruz Azul will start their Copa GNP por Mexico campaign and return to action on Saturday. Pumas is the host of the Mexico City series of games, and will have every advantage over a Cruz Azul team that has been severely hit by a rash of positive COVID-19 results. This will severely handicap a team that maybe shouldn’t have been taking part in the tournament, with the danger of the disease that is currently ravaging Mexico. Pumas meanwhile has reported no positive COVID 19 results in their last test after having positive cases before for players that were never named.

The cancellation of the Clausura 2020 hurt all teams in Mexico, but the one who people might consider as having the worst luck was Cruz Azul. The team hasn’t won the tournament since 1997, and they were in first place when the tournament was postponed. Cruz Azul beat America 1-0 in the “Clasico Capitalino” in what was the last game of the tournament. Many fans expected Cruz Azul to get the title if the tournament was suspended but once it was, no champion was given. The decision makes total sense since Cruz Azul was only one point over second place Leon and half the tournament wasn’t played. Also the fact that Liga MX decides winners through finals and not a point system, which is only good to qualify to the playoffs. Many fans still felt robbed, feeling that the cloud of bad luck that seemingly follows the team is in fact very real. Now there is the start of the Copa GNP por Mexico, a preseason tournament before the Apertura 2020 starts at the end of the month. Once again Cruz Azul is severely hit when it came out that they had eight COVID-19 positive results and seven undetermined results, one of which later turned positive increasing the total count to nine. Cruz Azul thus will be severely handicapped and the question should have been, should they even play? But the needs for money to come in to Liga MX teams meant the tournament is expected to go on, and Cruz Azul will have to play with an incredible disadvantage.

The Copa GNP por Mexico will be played in two cities, Mexico City and Guadalajara. The Mexico City venue will be Olimpico Universitario, Pumas’ home stadium. With no fans in the stands, the main advantage will be the home ground, and Pumas gets that benefit coming in. Outside of that, like everything around this tournament, it’s a total unknown. Pumas will be coming into the tournament with very few additions. So far the only major one was the switch on goalkeepers, with NT mainstay Alfredo Talavera coming in for Alfredo Saldivar. Pumas is a question mark like every team, but they should be heavy favorites on day one with a Cruz Azul who comes in as the most handicapped team of all. At home and with a team that might not have a complete squad to play the game, Pumas is the only team that should be a heavy favorite coming into the first games of this pre season tournament.

Sat July 4th

TV: TUDN 8:00 PM ET/ 7:00 PM CT