Monterrey and Pumas are headed in different directions.
Rayados enter Saturday's contest on the back of consecutive victories while Pumas, who were leading the league for the first several weeks of the tournament, haven't won in their last seven matches.
Pumas have drawn their last two matches and thanks to their strong start sit out of the playoff places only on goal difference.
Can they find their early-season form and pull an upset at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer or will Rayados continue their push toward a top seed in the Liguilla?
|Game||Monterrey vs. Pumas|
|Date||Saturday, April 7|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Stream (US only)||fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
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Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Gonzalez, Carrizo, Resendez|
|Defenders||Montes, Basanta, Sanchez, Portales, Vasquez, Alvarez, Vangioni, Velarde, Medina, Juarez|
|Midfielders||Molina, Ortiz, Zavala, J. Gonzalez, Amaya, Sanchez, A. Gonzalez, Urretaviscaya, Hurtado|
|Forwards||Funes Mori, Pabon, Benitez, Villa, Cruz|
Rayados are getting back to full fitness after several weeks missing players with injuries. Leonel Vangioni, Alfonso Gonzalez and Jonathan Gonzalez all played last week after missing time before the international break. Rogelio Funes Mori, however, is out for the season.
Potential starting XI: Gonzalez; Medina, Sanchez, Basanta, Vangioni; Molina, Ortiz; Urretaviscaya, A. Gonzalez, Pabon; Hurtado
|Goalkeepers||Saldivar, Magana, Castillo|
|Defenders||Van Rankin, Arribas, Quintana, Mendoza, Fuentes, Garcia, Jaquez, Gonzalez|
|Midfielders||Escamilla, Cabrera, Gonzalez, Jurado, Zamudio, Gallardo, Diaz, Calderon, Formica|
|Forwards||Barrera, Guerron, Alustiza, Figueroa, Asprilla, Acosta, Castillo, Torres|
Luis Quintana saw red against Necaxa but had his red-card suspension overturned after an appeal.
Potential starting XI: Saldivar; Mozo, Arribas, Quintana, Fuentes; Barrera, Cabrera, Diaz, Gallardo; Alustiza; Castillo
Betting & Match Odds
Monterrey is the favorite to win the match with dabblebet pricing it at 4/9. Pumas are rated 6/1 to get the road win and a draw is available at 16/5.
This is more like the Monterrey we expected.
After Rayados rolled to a first-place finish in the Apertura's regular season and made it to the final before losing a nail-biter to crosstown rival Tigres, there was no reason to think they wouldn't be competing for the top spots once again.
A slow start had the team on the edge of playoff contention, but recently the team has rediscovered its form. That included a winning goal from Carlos Sanchez against Pachuca last weekend. The winger had lost his starting spot and was rarely seeing minutes. An injury to Rogelio Funes Mori means things are more limited in attack, and Sanchez made the most of his substitute minutes from Antonio Mohamed
Even with "El Pato" back among the goals, Mohamed's biggest decision in the lineup will be in the midfield where he needs to decide between Jesus Molina or Jonathan Gonzalez, who won the starting job from Molina last tournament but has been inconsistent in his second tournament and is returning from an injury.
Pumas also are hoping for a throwback, not to last season when they finished last in the league but to the start of the season when they were first in Liga MX. After a seven-match winless drought, they're out of the playoff positions. That's only because of goal difference, though. If Matias Alustiza or Erick Torres can help Nicolas Castillo in attack, they may be able to get into the postseason. Jesus Gallardo scored on a Pablo Barrera assist against Necaxa last weekend, but the team struggled to generate more attack after Luis Quintana's sending-off in the 47th minute. He'll be back on the field this weekend after Pumas' red-card appeal was successful.
There also have been rumors of a rift in the locker room, whispers that only grew louder after pictures of Mauro Formica's birthday dinner showed up on social media with no Mexican players in attendance.
Monterrey already has the edge on Pumas based on their squad depth and recent form. Pumas can't have any sort of internal dispute adding onto what already is a difficult challenge Saturday. Monterrey has lost just two regular season matches at home in the last calendar year.