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Match preview: UNAM Pumas vs. Club Tijuana

Xolos head to CU on the heels of a solid win, but they’ll face a Pumas team that has so far refused to lose.

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Pumas UNAM v FC Juarez - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Game: Club Universidad Nacional vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente

Date: Sunday, August 30th

Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, 5:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Olímpico Universitario (Coyocán, D.F.)

Referees: REF: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, AR2: Jimmy Acosta Montesinos, 4TH: Victor Alfonso Caceres Hernandez, VAR: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AVAR: Igor Itzsvan Flores Florian

Television: United States - Univision, TUDN; Mexico - TUDN, ESPN2; Belize - ESPN2; Bosnia and Herzigovina - Arena Sport 3; Brazil - DAZN; Costa Rica - TUDN, ESPN2; Croatia - Arena Sport 6; Dominican Republic - ESPN2, El Salvador - TUDN, ESPN2; Guatemala - TUDN, ESPN2; Honduras - TUDN, ESPN2; Macedonia - Arena Sport 3; Montenegro - Arena Sport 3; Nicaragua - TUDN, ESPN2; Panama - TUDN, ESPN2; Portugal - Canal 11; Serbia - Arena Sport 3

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), TUDN En Vivo, Univision NOW (Subscription required)

All-time record: Tijuana leads the series with nine wins to Pumas’ five, while the clubs have drawn five times. All of their previous meetings have been in Liga MX play. In their last meeting, Tijuana won 1-0 on August 9, 2019 at Estadio Olímpico thanks to a goal by Camilo Sanvezzo.

Tijuana v Puebla FC - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
After the departures of Camilo Sanvezzo and Ariel Nahuelpán, Bryan Angulo has shouldered the goalscoring for Club Tijuana.
Photo by Francisco Vega/Getty Images

It’s been a surprising season so far for Club Tijuana (2W 1D 3L). Initially expected to be a dark horse playoff team, Xolos struggled out of the gate. Things finally came to a head during a disastrous stretch when captain Miller Bolaños and star striker Ariel Nahuelpán allegedly came to blows, resulting in Nahuelpán leaving the club and Bolaños not being in the eighteen for the last two matches.

Out of the ashes however has sprouted a team that is starting to live up to the promise that was touted before the season started. In the last match out against Puebla (2W 1D 3L), Tijuana played as complete a 90 minutes of soccer as they’ve played in recent memory. Xolos held Puebla to just three shots on goal, shutting down a red-hot Santiago Ormeño and giving the defense their second shutout of the season. On the offensive side of the ball, Tijuana took 20 total shots and Bryan Angulo scored in his second consecutive game. The team from La Frontera Norte got a solid home win against a solid team.

Tigres UANL v Pumas UNAM - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
Juan Ignacio Dinenno leads all Pumas goalscorers with five on the season.
Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Can they, to paraphrase the famous question about Lionel Messi, “do it under the noon sun in CU?” Tijuana’s road form has been atrocious, losing by a combined 6-1 across two games. Pumas (2W 4D 0L) on the other hand is the only unbeaten team left in the league, finding a way to salvage a draw in Monterrey against Tigres (2W 3D 1L) in the last minute thanks to a Carlos González header.

Pumas however may be punching above their weight. They haven’t won since Week 2, drawing their last four consecutive matches including an embarrassing 1-1 draw against FC Juárez (1W 3D 2L), who were down to nine players when they equalized. Still, Pumas hasn’t looked like a team that is going to continue to be unbeaten for very long.

Can Tijuana do it however? Traveling to CU, playing under the hot noon sun when the players’ bodies are telling them it’s really 10 AM and at altitude will not be an easy ask. Still, Pablo Guede’s team should have a new-found confidence after their last match. Pumas however should be confident as well, knowing they somehow always find a way to get a point.