WOODY BAUM - Thursday, February 25, 2010
Francisco Torres and Pachuca will try to right their championship loss last summer against Pumas, while Herculez Gomez will look to make it two goals in a row against Jaguares.
Pachuca - Pumas
Pachuca will get the chance to avenge their loss in the finals to Pumas from the Summer 2009 when they host Pumas this Saturday at the Estadio Hidalgo.
It was at the Estadio Hidalgo where Pachuca failed to take advantage of the home crowd when visiting Pumas beat Pachuca in overtime to win the tournament.
The memories will be recent as much of that Tuzo squad still remains intact.
This is a crucial game for the Tuzos as they are coming off a loss and tie in their previous two games and need the points to maintain their hopes of a liguilla berth.
Francisco Torres has started the last two matches, but the recent disappointing results might threaten his spot as Guillermo Rivarola might look to shake things up in the lineup.
The Tuzos will face a Pumas team coming off a win against Atlante, and, with ten points, sit in second place in their group.
Pachuca should have their entire squad available while Pumas will be without Fernando Morales due to injury.
Tigres will look to take back the points they lost in their last second tie to America last week when they host Morelia at the Estadio Universitario on Saturday evening.
Tigres desperately need the points, as they have not won since week one and their season is gradually slipping from their hands.
The hosts will face a motivated Morelia team coming off a disappointing double-header last week where they managed one point in two games.
Tigres' season has been filled with inconsistency, as evidenced by their game against America, where at times they were dominant, at times they were dominated and at times they just forgot how to play.
They will need to shore up these gaps and play well the full 90 minutes if they are to beat a strong attacking Morelia team that is capable of making teams pay for their mistakes. Tigres will have the additional burden of playing without Brazilian Itamar Batista who has been the team's only consistent scoring threat this season.
Edgar Castillo, who should start this week, will need to get involved in the attack as at times he has been absent this season.
He will also have sure up his defensive liabilities as the Tigres defense will have a tough time with the potent attacking due of Miguel Sabah and Luis Grabriel Rey of Morelia.
Toluca - Indios
Toluca hosts Indios this Sunday in the Estadio Nemesio Díez Riega in a game that has blowout all over it.
Indios, who have by most practical measures been doomed to the Primera A will likely make the relegation official when they take on league powerhouse Toluca.
Toluca's last home game was a 3-1 thrashing of America last week and there appears to be no reason that it will be different on Sunday.
They will also be extremely motivated to get back in the liguilla hunt as they currently sit in fourth place in their group. This win is extremely important to them and the playmaking Antonio "Sinha" Naelson will direct a dangerous attack led by Hector Raul Mancilla.
Indios winless streak continues and they might try another tactic. After playing well for the first time this season last week against Cruz Azul, it is possible that the Cuidad Juarez side goes down a man early in the game, as the strategy almost paid off last week.
American Marco Vidal has been playing the full 90 almost every game this season but he will have his hands full against a determined Toluca squad.
Indios will be without Javier Malagueño who is suspended. Toluca should have their full squad available.
Puebla will host Jaguares of Chiapas this Sunday afternoon at the Estadio Cuauhtemoc.
Puebla is coming off a loss against league leaders Chivas, while Jaguares managed to tie Pachuca at home last weekend.
The hosts currently sit in second to last place in their group and will need these points to remain competitive in their playoff hunt.
Their season has been market by inconsistency but did manage to win two weeks ago thanks to a goal by Herculez Gomez.
Gomez has been a welcome addition to the Puebla squad, consistently winning more minutes and scoring several goals. He seems to have finally cemented his role as a starter after starting last week against Chivas and scoring.
Puebla will have to face Jaguares without their explosive, and always entertaining head coach José Luis Sanchez was sent off for arguing with the referees last week.
Estudiantes will host America this Sunday in Guadalajara in a game with serious implications for both sides' liguilla ambitions.
Estudiantes currently sit in second to last place in their group, and have now blown two leads in a row in which they lost to Monterrey at home and tied Santos Laguna away. They are a team famous for having bad luck and things go against them.
Luckily they are playing America, who road performances have been abysmal to date, as they have failed to pick up a single point away this season.
American Sammy Ochoa came in as a second half substitute against Monterrey but failed to see the field against Santos. He will hope to see some minutes on Sunday as his playing time has been sparse so far this season.
American will be without Salvador Cabañas who is recovering from a near-fatal gunshot wound to the head, Enrique Esqueda and and Chilean Jean Beausejour whom are injured. Estudiantes should have their entire squad available.