Aventuras Américas | Part 85 | Pumas #1: Immediate Success

New to Aventuras Américas? Kick off at the job hunt stage or pick it up at club 1 Puerto Montt, club 2 Universidad Católica, club 3 New York Red Bulls, club 4 River Plate Montevideo, club 5 América de Cali, club 6 Alianza Lima, club 7 Puebla FC, club 8 Palmeiras, club 9 FC Edmonton, club 10 Newell’s Old Boys, club 11 Godoy Cruz, club 12 Flamengo and international teams Brazil and Colombia. Or dip into the start of the European leg of the journey at club 13 Wolfsburg, club 14 Liverpool, club 15 Barcelona, club 16 Sporting. club 17 AC Milan, club 18 Newcastle United, club 19 Paris Saint-Germain, club 20 Vasco da Gama or club 21 Universitario.

After sealing a second Peruvian title with Universitario, Robinho Lazaró agreed to return to México with Pumas. However, his promise to join them at the end of the Peruvian season backfired as it meant an 11-month period of limbo between the two roles.

Lazaró considered staying with Universitario during that time but the inability to make any transfers or have any real control over team matters made that a bit pointless. So he resigned from Universitario and treated himself to a long holiday in the comfortable surroundings of his rural Colombian home.

But 11 months later in November 2069, at the seriously ripe age of 85, Lazaró boarded a flight to México City to join his 22nd club on his Football Manager journey.

Who are Pumas?

Club de Fútbol Universidad Nacional, also known as UNAM or Pumas de la UNAM, is based at Ciudad Universitaria, the main campus of National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City. This sounds a little baffling, but the campus is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that, upon its completion in 1954, was Mexico’s biggest construction project since the Aztecs. The site is home to the Olympic Stadium along with a host of faculties, institutes and museums, and the Central Library, the Cultural Centre and an ecological reserve.

Pumas were founded in 1954 and play home games at the 68,954-capacity Estadio Olímpico Universitario. The club has excellent infrastructure with 14 training facilities and 16 youth facilities supporting 18 junior coaching and a perfect 20 youth recruitment. They also have a fierce historic rivalry with fellow Mexico City side Club América. But their kits weren’t available, so we gave them some sexy new ones…

Last season, Pumas finished in a lowly 15th place in Liga MX Apertura, which was won by Lazaró’s former side Puebla FC. Then Pumas finished fourth in the Clausura League, which was won by Tigres. But Pumas won the Clausura stage in 2068. In total, they’ve won 13 Apertura titles and 11 Clausura titles, plus five Copa MX successes and seven CONCACAF Champions Leagues.

Lazaró’s new board expect him to challenge for the Liga MX playoffs, reach the semi-final of Copa MX and focus on developing young players. However, the finances aren’t in great shape with just £1.5 million in the balance but an £11 million transfer budget.

Meet the Pumas squad of 2069

Lazaró was pleasantly surprised at the lack of old men and the wealth of rich young talent at Pumas. Indeed, the best two players are Brazilian wonderkids in 19-year-old midfielder Nogueira and 18-year-old striker Lucas, who both look absolutely amazing!

Other key players include left-back Victor Musa, who Lazaró loaned from Chelsea at Newcastle, Colombian goalkeeper Nicolás Rengifo, 19-year-old academy product midfielder Marcos Cedillo and 6ft 5in centre-back Wbeymar Riascos.

The club has a mass of exciting youngsters led by 15-year-old winger Alberto Mejía, who looks like a superstar in the making. Several youngsters are already in the first team, including 17-year-old full-back Daniel Burgueno, strikers Josué Vera and Eduardo Manzotti, winger Paulo Alfaro, midfielders Luis Enrique García and Luciano Cruzalta and 6ft 6in centre-back Fernando Álvarez. Also worth keeping an eye on are midfielders Jesús Ramírez and Felipe Xibille, strikers Ángel Barrientos and Diego Mariscal and centre-back Gerardo Rodríguez.

After a quick assessment of the players available, Lazaró decided to initially go with a variation on the 4-3-1-2 he honed at AC Milan.

Straight into Liga MX playoffs

Pumas just finished sixth in the Liga MX Apertura League then beat Xolos Tijuana in the preliminary round. That meant Lazaró took charge at the playoff quarter-final stage against pre-season favourites Tigres, who finished fourth. His new side started superbly as Lucas bagged a hat-trick and Nogueira got two assists in a 4-0 home first-leg win. And they progressed with a 3-3 draw in the away leg in which Vera scored his first two goals for the club.

Next up was a semi-final with Cruz Azul, who finished 10th in the league. Cruz Azul dominated their home leg by 27 shots to 12 but only won 3-2 with a 96th-minute winner. The second leg came three days later and Pumas’ players were exhausted so Lazaró rotated, but they nicked a 2-1 win with goals from backup striker Anselmo Camacho and Nogueira, who scored for the third game in a row. And a 4-4 aggregate score saw Pumas progress as the highest seed, having finished above Cruz Azul in the league.

The final promised to be tougher as the next opponent was CF Pachuca, who not only defeated league winners Santos Laguna in the semis but Pumas had a rotten record against them, losing four of the last five meetings and drawing the other. That continued as Pachuca nicked a 2-1 win at Pumas. But against all the odds, Pumas responded superbly as Vera scored inside two minutes then a quickfire double from Nogueira and Lucas put them 3-0 up inside 23 minutes! Pachuca scored twice in four minutes but Vera doubled his tally just before the break then a Pachuca red card after an hour killed the game off.

After six games in charge of Pumas, Lazaró wrapped up his 37th career league title as Pumas lifted Liga MX Apertura! And the key man once again was the excellent Nogueira.

The success was very much down to the form of Pumas’ exceptional young talents Nogueira, who has four goals and six assists in Lazaró’s six games, Lucas, who has four goals and three assists, and Vera, who’s scored five in three!

But could Lazaró’s exciting young players fire them to further glory as we move into the 2070s? Find out in the next blog on Friday!

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