Leon has beaten two of the three Mexico City teams already this season. On Sunday, the Esmeraldas go for the sweep against Pumas.
Last Sunday, UNAM defeated bitter rivals America to claim the Clasico Capitalino. This Sunday, the Pumas might face a bigger challenge – Leon.
Leon will not be intimidated trotting onto the pitch at Estadio Olimpico Universitario in southern Mexico City because the Esmeraldas have been road warriors this year. Ignacio Ambriz’s club has earned four straight shut-outs away from home, posting a very impressive +12 goal differential.
And Leon has not been building its résumé on the back of pushovers. Among Leon’s road victims are America (3-0), Toluca (3-0) and Cruz Azul (2-0). The Esmeraldas are third in the standings with 14 points, 5 behind the first-place Tigres.
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Leon forward Angel Mena leads the league with 5 assists and is second with 6 goals. The Ecuadorian has participated in 11 of his team’s goals (16) thus far in the Clausura 2019. Up front with Mena is 19-year-old Mexican striker Jose Juan Macias, on loan from the Chivas. Macias has 4 goals, but more importantly, he and Mena have developed a very good partnership.
As if this is not enough of a challenge for the Pumas, Leon’s defense has given up the second-fewest goals in the tournament. Goalie Rodolfo Cota has been a stud and right back Fernando Navarro is enjoying a remarkable season, too.
The Pumas got off to a slow start and fired coach David Patiño after a Matchday 4 loss to Pachuca. Bruno Marioni has helped right the ship and the Pumas have gone 2-1-0 since (4-1-0 including Cup games).
Last weekend’s 1-0 home win over hated America could be a real boost, however. UNAM faced America six times last year, losing three and tying three. The Pumas had not beaten the Aguilas at the CU in five years, so beating America in front of their home fans will provide a big boost of confidence.
The win was only the second of the season for UNAM, giving them 9 points (a 2-3-2 record), good for 12th in the table. Under Marioni – a former star striker for the Pumas – UNAM has flipped the script, and the match against Leon could give very well be the Game of the Week.
Both teams are hot, and both teams like to play with attacking flair. This should be an epic match and we can look forward to a real shoot-out.