Mexico City hunkers down for Clásico Capitalino

The Aguilas and Pumas will face off for the 151st time on Saturday, Sept. 14. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images)
The Aguilas and Pumas will face off for the 151st time on Saturday, Sept. 14. (Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images) /

You can throw out the records when America and UNAM square off. The Clásico Capitalino is always an intense match.

When the Liga MX schedule comes out heading into each season, Pumas fans look for one date to circle on their calendar – their match against América. That’s the one game – the Clásico Capitalino – that can make or break UNAM’s season, often regardless of what else happens that year.

Aguilas fans also identify the Clásico Capitalino as a big date, but the players – and fans – still see the Super Clásico (against the Chivas) as their huge game.

The Clásico Capitalino was born 57 years ago and it has grown into a bitter rivalry. In fact, Mexico City officials will be on high alert Saturday night, hoping that the only clashes related to the Clasico Capitalino take place on the pitch. Nearly 3,000 police officers have been assigned security detail inside and outside the stadium.

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The Pumas celebrate after beating América during the Clausura 2019. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images) /

This will be the 115th regular-season Clásico Capitalino pitting the Aguilas against the Pumas. UNAM won the last meeting, blanking América 1-0 in the Clausura 2019, but the Aguilas can take comfort in the fact that they lead the all-time series 41-43-30.

Rankling Pumas fans even further, América’s dominance has been even more pronounced in the playoffs where they lead the series 13-4-6. In fact, the last two times the teams met in the Liguilla, América has bounced the Pumas from the playoffs.

Saturday’s match will be played in Estadio Azteca where the Aguilas are 4-1-0 in their last 5 at vs. the Pumas. Included in this streak is a 6-1 rout in the Apertura 2018 semifinals, a loss that many pundits believe UNAM still has not recovered from. The Pumas stumbled through a disappointing Clausura 2019, finishing well out of the playoffs in 15th place.

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This was a familiar scene in Estadio Azteca on Dec. 9, 2018, as América spanked UNAM 6-1 in the Apertura 2018 semifinals. (Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images) /

As a result, UNAM management dismissed coach Bruno Marioni over the summer and replaced him with Real Madrid legend Miguel González, aka “Michel.” Under “Michel,” the Pumas have been rather inconsistent in the Apertura 2019, posting a modest 4-0-4 record that has them in 9th place.

The new coach has been tinkering with his line-up, trying to find a combination that will provide some firepower. The Pumas have only 8 goals in 8 games and have been shut out in all four losses. To make matters more daunting, UNAM is only 1-0-3 on the road while América is undefeated at Estadio Azteca this season (3-1-0).

América coach Miguel Herrera was no doubt grateful for the FIFA break because the Aguilas locker room had begun to look like a medical triage. “El Piojo” will have a bigger roster to choose from to go to battle against the Pumas; he expects to have striker Henry Martín available for the first time all season.

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Midfielders Gio dos Santos and Renato Ibarra also return from time spent on injury row. Still, the Aguilas are likely to be without stalwart defender Bruno Valdez and midfielders Nicolás Benedetti and Andrés Ibarguen. Star striker Nicolás Castillo is not expected back until November.

Despite struggling with injuries from the get-go, América’s physical style and strong midfield play has allowed them to remain near the top of the table. The Aguilas are 4-3-1, suffering their first loss heading into the FIFA break. Their record has them in 3rd place with 15 points and a win on Saturday night could move them into the top spot since first-place Querétaro has a bye this weekend.