Game: Pumas UNAM vs Tijuana Xolos
When: Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017
Where: Estadio Olimpico Universitario, Mexico City
Time: 10:00 A.M. PST
TV: Univision Deportes
After a weekend of no Liga MX action, the glorious top-flight of Mexican soccer is back in full effect this weekend.
This week the Xolos will travel to Mexico City as the Xolos will play Pumas UNAM away from home this Sunday, Sept. 10. The game should be a close encounter as Club Tijuana is going into this game in much better form than its opponent, but the Estadio Olimpico Universitario has proved to be a challenging place to visit for any team.
The Tijuana Xolos are currently one of the hottest teams in the Liga MX, going into this game with three consecutive victories, now in seventh place with 10 points. This run of fantastic form includes a 2-0 win against Santos Laguna at home, a 3-1 away win against Queretaro, and a 2-1 victory against Pachuca, also at home. Eduardo Coudet has still not been able to get the most of his squad in terms of playing style, but the team has been playing effectively to obtain the favorable results.
The latest 2-1 win against Pachuca showcased how the Aztec Canines are still struggling to create scoring opportunities. Pachuca was a man down due to a red card since the 12th minute of the game and the border city side scraped the three points from the game with a wonder goal by Damian Musto in the 86th minute. At one point in the game, Pachuca even looked like the team that was more likely to score and come away with the three points from the encounter. One of Club Tijuana’s latest acquisitions, Juan Manuel Iturbe, did make his debut in the game against Los Tuzos, and perhaps new signing, Miller Bolanos, can make his debut this week against Pumas UNAM. Los Xoloitzcuintles are a very promising side, especially with the recent additions to the squad, but will need to start playing a more enticing style of play to progress this season.
Pumas UNAM has been one of the most disappointing teams in the Liga MX, currently in 16th place with six points. The Mexico City team only has two wins and five losses this tournament. The two wins both came at home, a 1-0 win against Pachuca in week 1, and a 2-0 win against Lobos BUAP in week 4. The now former manager, Paco Palencia, was relieved of his duties after a 2-1 loss against Monarcas Morelia in week 6. Sergio Egea took over, but has not shown signs of progress, losing his first game in charge of the club 1-0 against Veracruz away from home in week 7 of the competition.
The only positive to take from the current state of Pumas is that the team did not lose Chilean striker Nicolas Castillo this transfer window after speculation of a move to Europe. Los Capitalinos have had a heavy reliance on Castillo this season as the South American star has scored five of Pumas UNAM’s six goals this season. That reliance has been the Mexico City team’s downfall this season and will continue to be a problem as the season progresses. However, Los Felinos have won two out of their three games at home in this Apertura 2017 and the home-field advantage may prove to be the deciding factor in this game.
Players to Watch
Juan Manuel Iturbe
The Argentine-born Paraguayan forward featured in 25 minutes of the match against Pachuca in week 7 of the competition. Iturbe looked decent, but did miss two very clear opportunities in front of goal, including an open-net shot. Iturbe played as a striker in the Copa MX game against Atlante and looked sharp and comfortable in the position. Luis Angel Mendoza has done a fantastic job playing alongside Gustavo Bou, but it may be time for Iturbe to take that starting role and this would be a nice test for the ex-Roma winger.
The Argentine striker was the most anticipated signing this off-season, coming in as the direct replacement for Milton Caraglio in the attack. In his first few games, Bou showed promised, but the team around him was not feeding him the ball to capitalize on scoring opportunities. Since week 4 of the competition, the South American player has scored in four consecutive games and is shaping up to be one of the more clinical finishers in the league. Bou has a mixture of strength and technical ability that can be a danger to any opposition and it will be interesting to see if he can continue his scoring streak in this game
The Xolos are the better team going into this game, but the home-field advantage is a huge factor for Pumas UNAM. The game should be a tough one for both sides and there is no clear winner heading into it. The prediction is a 1-1 draw between the two teams with Gustavo Bou continuing his scoring streak. The game should be a hard-fought encounter that should produce some cards throughout the 90 minutes and should be an exciting match to watch.