MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) — América will look to extend its unbeaten streak to 10 games to advance to its first semifinals since the 2019 Apertura when it hosts Puebla in the second leg of the Mexican Clausura quarterfinals on Saturday.
The Eagles have not lost since date nine, when they succumbed to Monterrey in the first game of Argentine coach Fernando Ortiz, who took over from his compatriot Santiago Solari. Since then, the team has six wins and three draws and went from being last to classifying directly to the league.
América equalized 1-1 in the first leg against the Pueblans and any draw is enough to access the league semifinals. Under Solari, the Azulcremas reached the semi-finals and final of the CONCACAF Champions League in December last year, but lost to Monterrey.
“The feeling is that the key is still open, that’s the reality,” said “Tano” Ortiz. “We must have the peace of mind to play at home, we must be calm and carry out the commitment”
América will have to overcome the absence of Uruguayan striker Federico Viñas and probably Paraguayan midfielder Richard Sánchez, both with injuries in the first leg.
Puebla, which reached the league in fifth place, is not settled and any victory would give it a ticket to the semifinals.
In Mexico, away goals no longer count as a criteria to tie the tie and only the position in the standings is taken into account.
The game is on Saturday at the Azteca stadium.
That same day, but at the Hidalgo stadium, the leader Pachuca will try to take advantage of their hometown to beat the combative Atlético de San Luis in a series that is even 1-1.
On Sunday, Cruz Azul will look to come back to stay alive when they visit Tigres, the second seed in the league, which won 1-0 in the first leg.
La Maquina, champion only in the Clausura last year, has had a bad end to the tournament and has barely won one of its last six games.
“If we play like the second half we have chances to win,” said Peruvian Juan Reynoso. “We have to take away those details of falling into bad decisions like we did in the first half”.
Cruz Azul needs to get a victory by a difference of two scores, something they have not achieved since the sixth date when they beat Toluca 4-1. For Tigres, the tie or defeat by difference of one score gives them the passport.
The meeting is at the University Stadium in Monterrey, in the north of the country.
That same day, at the Jalisco stadium in western Guadalajara, Chivas will try to return to winning ways when they visit champion Atlas.
Guadalajara saw a five-game winning streak broken by losing 2-1 in the first leg and need to win by two goal difference to stay alive.
“For me the series is completely open, the feeling that the team leaves me is that it is hungry and ashamed and that it is going to look for a comeback in Jalisco,” said Guadalajara manager Ricardo Cadena. “Despite going down 2-0, they didn’t give the game away and that leaves me confident that we can turn it around”.
For Atlas, who last tournament broke a streak of 70 years without being champion, any tie or defeat of up to one goal is enough.