Injury-ridden Chivas seek first win at Pumas in almost 10 years
Benjamin Galindo's team is becoming increasingly solid as the Clausura tournament rolls on, but it will face a stern test on Sunday against Pumas with injury problems mounting.
Center back Hector Reynoso is definitely out of the contest, but Marco Fabian is also a major doubt for the Rojiblancos. The loss of Fabian would be massive, with the player in scintillating form in 2013, after a poor last season. The forward hobbled off the training pitch Thursday with a right knee injury after clashing with teammate Carlos Villanueva.
To make matters worse, strike duo Rafa Marquez Lugo and Miguel Sabah both had injury problems during the week, although the suggestion from the club is that they should be in line to start against Pumas.
Better news has come with medical staff giving midfielder Luis Perez the OK to play a part in Sunday's game, while Jorge Enriquez is also back in the frame, heating up competition for places in the middle of the field.
Chivas travel to Pumas' CU with the knowledge that they last won there in 2004. Eight games have been played since. "It is time we ended the streak and take the three points over there," said Jorge Enriquez in a press conference this week. "We have to be intelligent, but of course I am confident that we can win."
There have been fourteen draws in the last 16 games between the two sides and there hasn't been a goal between the two teams in the last 285 minutes of soccer, with the last three games all finishing 0-0.
Marquez Lugo complained this week of playing at midday in Mexico City in the heat and altitude. Rarely are midday games in the CU highly entertaining and Sunday's game is unlikely to be any different.
The bottom line is that Galindo would take another 0-0 right now, picking up another point away from home and extending Chivas' unbeaten run to seven matches, stretching back to the January 11th loss against Santos Laguna.
Fans may want to see something a little more expansive, but expect Chivas to keep it as tight as possible, especially with Fabian not likely to participate and other aforementioned players not necessarily at 100 percent fitness.
Is Pumas-Chivas a clasico? That's a question that has been doing the rounds in the Mexican press in the build-up to this game. Galindo and sporting director Dennis te Kloese have been adamant it isn't, but Pumas defender Marco Antonio "Pikolin" Palacios said he believes it is. Clasico or no clasico, there is a rivalry, most notably as to which club has the best youth system.
While Pumas haven't exactly set the league on fire this season -– something you could also say about Chivas -– Antonio Torres Servin's team have gradually been improving and sit a point above Chivas in seventh position. Unbeaten in five games, the side is slowly starting to put last season's problems behind it. Javier Cortes is the danger man having recently got back to full fitness.