The Rafael Puente, Jr. era begins with Pumas having their season opener on Sunday in Mexico City, facing FC Juarez. Pumas will have a tough task against the team from Ciudad Juarez, a city whose teams have a very positive record against Pumas. Pumas will hope to make a good start to the season, as the pressure from the 2022 Apertura season where Pumas was a candidate for the title after a number of signings, but ended with the terrible failure of missing out in the postseason.
The Apertura 2022 had big expectations for Pumas after a number of signings. Pumas had made a number of moves when they acquired Argentine forward prospect Gustavo del Prete and 2018 World Cup squad member for Argentina, Eduardo Salvio. Yet the big signing came later on when Brazilian legend Dani Alves joined the squad after coming from Barcelona. The move came just as Pumas was going to Spain to face FC Barcelona in the Joan Gamper Trophy. Although Coach Andres Lillini’s season hadn’t started well, Pumas and the fans looked up to the match and the season. The match ended up being a disaster, with Pumas getting massacred from the start and losing by a score of 6-0, in a score that could have (should have?) been worse. Pumas returned to Mexico only to lose against Club America at home by a 3-0 score, and they never recovered. With 12 out of 18 teams qualifying to the Repechaje, Pumas not making it ended up being a failure and after the season ended, and Pumas parted ways with Lillini. Unfortunately for most Pumas’ fans, the option that Pumas chose, Rafael Puente, Jr., was the one they liked the least as Puente, Jr. came in after a terrible spell with Atlas. Already his first tournament with Pumas, the preseason Copa por Mexico 2022, left a lot to be desired with Pumas eliminated after three matches but closing out with a win against Club America.
FC Juarez had the opposite season as Pumas, with them having a great season as they qualified to the Repechaje for the first time. Under coach Hernan Cristante, they ended up losing their repechaje match against Toluca, but overall had a great tournament. Now the pressure will be if they are going to build on that performance, and a trip to face Pumas seems tough although they have had success against them. Ciudad Juarez has been a strange case, as although their teams haven’t done great during the time in Liga MX, they have done well against Pumas. During Indios de Ciudad Juarez’ short time in Liga MX, Pumas never got a win against them, even when they got relegated and had a terrible season. FC Juarez has already lost against Pumas in Mexico City, but overall they have gotten good results including a 1-1 away tie in a match were they ended up with 9 players to Pumas’ 11 but still got the tie.
Pumas will have a tough task to start their season against FC Juarez. Still even with their past success, Pumas will be slightly favored and Puente Jr will hope that the teams starts clicking immediately as anything but a win will already increase the pressure on him, which is already substantial to begin with.
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