In its first game after the brief FIFA break, Leon must figure out how to revive its moribund offense at UNAM.
With six games remaining in the Apertura 2019, Leon is comfortably in the playoff race, but its position in the table is not where they expected to be after finishing atop the table last season. After 12 games, the Esmeraldas are in seventh place with 20 points, though they are fourth in our Power Rankings.
La Fiera is coming off two shaky results before the FIFA break, settling for a 1-1 draw last time out against the weakest Liga MX team, Veracruz. The week before that, Leon suffered a surprising 2-1 loss at Puebla.
Alarm bells have not gone off just yet, but if Leon does not get a positive result on Sunday against UNAM, Esmeraldas fans might begin to worry.
The Pumas will not make it easy for Leon. They slipped into ninth place after Atlas won on Friday night, with 18 points and an advantageous goal difference thanks to their league-best defense. UNAM has only given up 10 goals in their 12 games.
Leon will have to try to figure out the Pumas defense without their quarterback as captain Luis “Chapo” Montes has been sidelined for an undetermined amount of time after suffering an injury to his femoral bicep. The midfielder leads the team with 5 assists and had not missed a minute of playing time.
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The Esmeraldas will have to lean more heavily on their power forwards Jose Juan Macias, and Ismael Sosa, while relying on wingers Angel Mena and Jean Meneses for more playmaking.
The Pumas are led by coach Michel Gonzalez who has transformed the club into a more dynamic team after a slow start. UNAM still has trouble scoring (only 13 goals scored), but their stout defense allows them to press forward a bit more freely. Right back Alan Mozo has thrived under the new manager and he received an invitation to the El Tri training camp ahead of the recent Concacaf Nations League matches during the FIFA break.
The Pumas are 5-3-4 overall, but have a 4-1-1 home record.
UNAM will be looking for more production from lead striker Carlos Gonzalez (he only has 4 goals), but he will be going up against a top defensive team in Leon.