Week 8 play in the Liga MX Clausura 2014 season has several intriguing games on the schedule to attention of both fans and neutrals. In any other week, a Leon-Santos Laguna and a Toluca-Chivas matchup would be considered to be the game of the week. But this upcoming weekend, both of those games will play second fiddle to the game that will be played Saturday afternoon at the Estadio Azteca as Club America host Pumas UNAM in one of the most intense rivalries/clasicos in Mexican futbol.
The America-Pumas games stir up so much passion that the only game that generates as much passion on and off the field is the Superclasico between America and Chivas. One of the reasons Club America-Pumas matchup stirs up so much emotion is the age-old debate of if the game is a clasico or not. For many Club America fans, this matchup is not a clasico because Pumas are just little brother. Pumas fans and many neutrals, however, see it as a clasico because it fulfills all the requirements.
Looking at the present day, this incarnation of this particular capital clasico sees two teams headed in opposite directions at the moment. For the home team Club America, on first glance things look like they are going well with new coach Antonio Mohamed as America are third in the standings on 19 points, seven behind leaders Cruz Azul. Yet on closer examination, all is not well with America at the moment.
The team is dealing with a bit of a slump as they have lost their last two games both by a scoreline of 1-0. Aside from having lost their last two games, there are many questions about Mohamed and his ability to coach a big team like America given that he has the team confused as to whether to still play the attacking style that characterized America under Miguel Herrera or the more defensive style that characterizes Mohamed. This, along with a lack of attacking fluidity and an increase in muscle pull injuries, has seen Mohamed questioned which adds to the feeling that America are springing leaks.
Pumas, on the other hand, are seeing an upturn in fortune as not too long ago things were in disarray. A club known for doing a good job of promoting youth players and surrounding them with quality foreign players had lost their ways in both areas. But a few positive results later and Pumas find themselves fifth in the standings with 11 points through seven games. While Jose Luis Trejo deserves a lot of credit for having given Pumas strong leadership through the early turbulent times, it has helped that Martin Bravo has come through and is currently the top scorer with six goals.
This game will be hard fought and no doubt open to seeing a player or two sent off, but at the same time it offers Pumas a chance to send their most hated rival into further crisis while continuing their upward swing as a team. Additionally, Pumas will want to end what has been a six-game losing streak to America as the last time they played, Pumas were thoroughly embarrassed both in the final scoreline and in the effort displayed.