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Match preview: Pumas vs Atlas

Pumas will make their season debut at home against an improved Atlas.

Pumas UNAM v Cruz Azul - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Pumas hope to start the 2021 Apertura tournament with a win after a terribly disappointing season when they host Atlas. Pumas will have to overcome the disappointment of once again not having fans in the stands after they were set to do so. They had fans at Estadio Olímpico for the Pumas Femenil home opener, but an escalation of COVID-19 cases got in the way. With a couple of questionable additions during the offseason, they will face an Atlas team who had a superior past season and who will look to have a repeat of their performance.

Pumas’ last season was a big disappointment. After getting to the Liga MX Final in the previous season, Pumas failed to qualify to the either the Liguilla or the repechaje, even though 12 out of 18 teams made it. Pumas sold their striker Carlos Gonzalez to Tigres, and losing him turned out to be terrible for the team. The offense fell on Juan Ignacio Dinenno, who had been the surprise in his first year at Pumas. Dinenno however couldn’t handle being the focal point of the offense, especially after missing games because of an injury. Pumas tried to fill the hole with Panamanian striker Gabriel Torres, but he was a big bust in his first season. This past offseason Pumas made five additions, but the quality of some of them has been questioned by fans. Higor Meritao and Rogerio, who were playing in a club in Brazil’s fourth division, have especially come under fire. Pumas also lost another key player to Tigres when they transferred Juan Pablo Vigon to the northern team. Although he wasn’t as talented as Gonzalez, it’s still a loss to the midfield. Pumas are hoping to improve, but the lack of players acquired had left fans with little optimism for it to happen.

Atlas will be hoping to have a repeat of their last season, when they returned to the Liguilla. Atlas got to the repechaje and eliminated Tigres, but their fans might have wanted a better performance than their quarterfinal loss against Puebla. Still they kept a lot of their players and added Julian Quiñones from Tigres, although they did lose Renato Ibarra. It looks like Atlas is set to have a better season than Pumas, but they will have to start in the heat of Mexico City at 12:00 PM, so while they might be favorites in the season, it’s might not mean a result on Sunday.