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Match preview: Monterrey vs Pumas

Monterrey will be heavily favored as they return home to face a struggling Pumas.

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

Two teams who need to bounce back will be facing each other on Saturday as Monterrey hosts Pumas. Monterrey is one of the top candidates for the title but a COVID-19 outbreak forced them to postpone two games. In their return, they only got a scoreless tie against a Puebla team that isn’t a top candidate. Also coming from a scoreless game is Pumas, but the result is even worse as they tied at home against last placed Atlas. They will have a tougher hurdle on Saturday and will be the underdog.

Monterrey came to the season as one of the favorites to win it all. After Antonio Mohammed’s tenure ended with their shock loss in the repechaje against Puebla, Monterrey brought back Javier Aguirre to Mexican football after almost 20 years out. The most successful Mexican coach had a nice squad for his return, and they started well with two wins against Atlas and America. Unfortunately after the America game, news came out of a massive outbreak of COVID-19, including accusations from America that they even spread the disease to their players. Because of this, their match against Leon got postponed as well as their match against Puebla The game that should have been played on Friday was finally played on Tuesday, and although Monterrey had chances, in the end it was a disappointing scoreless tie. Although Monterrey didn’t play well they will still be overwhelmingly favorites on Saturday. They have the better squad than Pumas, are at home, and even when they showed a decrease in level of play, it was a lot less than Pumas. It will have to be a surprise for them to not get the three points on Saturday.

Pumas season has been a struggle. After a good away to Tijuana and a convincing win against Mazatlan, Pumas seemed to have a good path to a successful season, but things in that last game ended up costing them. Star forward Juan Ignacio Dinneno went out injured, which forced Emanuel Montejano to play even after he only made his Liga MX debut in that game. Although Montejano scored against Mazatlan and had a great game, he hasn’t been able to score since just like Pumas. Pumas lost to Queretaro by a 2-0 score and then they had the scoreless tie. With Montejano alone in the attack, Pumas offense has looked incredibly weak. To fix things, Pumas signed Panamanian forward Gabriel Torres from Independiente del Valle. Although he looks to be a good candidate to do the job, he has a tough debut on the horizon facing Monterrey. With the lack of time with the team, it looks like though Torres should help, Saturday might be too soon to expect him to make an impact on Pumas weak offense.

Monterrey is clearly favored to win on Saturday. Yet this being Mexican football, anything can happen. Pumas could improve and they are a team coming from a season where they got to the final. Yet Monterrey still has the better squad and if they start improving after their health woes, they should get a win as they enter the talk of title contenders again.