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Cruz Azul hopes its return to Estadio Azteca provides a spark when it hosts Pachuca on Saturday night in the second leg of the semifinal matchup in the Mexican Liga MX playoffs. La Maquina will try to get on the board early after failing to score a goal on the road in a 0-0 draw Wednesday night. But Cruz Azul has more talent and is likely to field more attacking players in pursuit of a final berth. It lost at this stage in the Apertura postseason then won the Clausura regular-season title. Pachuca, meanwhile, finished in eighth place but has been on an extended hot streak.     

Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET at Estadio Azteca. Cruz Azul is a 0.5-goal and -135 money-line favorite (risk $135 to win $100) in the latest Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul odds from William Hill Sportsbook, and the over-under for total goals scored is 2.5. Before you make any Cruz Azul vs. Pachuca picks, check out the Liga MX predictions from SportsLine's Martin Green.

After working in the sports betting industry for several years, Green became a professional sports writer and handicapper. Since then, his soccer picks have been spot-on. In fact, Green has generated $19,000 for $100 bettors since the 2017-18 season.

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Now, Green has broken down Cruz Azul vs. Pachuca in the Liga MX playoffs. You can visit SportsLine now to see his picks. Here are several odds and trends for Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul:

  • Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul spread: Cruz Azul -0.5
  • Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul over-under: 2.5 goals
  • Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul money line: Pachuca +390, Cruz Azul -135, Draw +240 
  • CA: Jonathan Rodriguez has 37 goals in 55 games over the past two seasons
  • PAC: Erick Sanchez averages 0.56 goals per shot on target (tied for sixth in Liga MX)

Why you should back Cruz Azul

La Maquina were dominant in the Clausura after 1-0 losses in its first two matches. They didn't lose another game, going 13-2-2 and scoring 26 goals (tied for most in Liga MX) while giving up just 11 (fewest). Pachuca scored 20 goals in its 17 matches and was just plus-1 in goal differential while going a mediocre 6-5-6. Azul scored in every game following its 0-0-2 start while Loz Tuzos were held off the score sheet five times. The team will be hungry to get to the final after missing out in the Apertura, tying Pumas 4-4 but being eliminated as the lower seed.    

Manager Juan Reynoso will change his approach and push to get a result, and the team has talent to spare. Jonathan Rodriguez is the league's top scorer over the two Liguillas with 21 goals in 31 matches, and Orbelin Pineda, Brayan Angulo and Juan Escobar should be in the starting 11. Angulo has five goals in all competitions since the middle of April, while Pineda and Escobar had four apiece and added four assists over the regular seasons. Luis Romo, who tied for the league lead with 10 assists in 29 matches, is a creative playmaker and relentless tackler.

Why you should back Pachuca

Los Tuzos are 8-3-2 in their last 13 matches and scored two or more goals in eight of those. They have scored 14 goals in their past five matches and will have the edge in a draw if they score one after not yielding an away goal on Wednesday. Pachuca held the ball for 57 percent of the match, and Cruz Azul is likely to attack more in the second leg, which could leave it vulnerable to counter-attacks. Eight players scored multiple goals for Pahuca over the two Liguillas, with striker Roberto de La Rosa and center forward Ismael Sosa combining for 11.

Midfielder Erick Sanchez (four goals) and de La Rosa came up together through the team's youth academy, and the 21-year-olds provide energy and creativity to the attack. Seven players have goals in these playoffs, with de La Rosa and Oscar Mirillo both scoring twice in the opener against Chivas, and Sosa has three assists. Midfielder Erick Aguirre is a versatile player who is usually in the middle of the action, and he has a goal and an assist. Pachuca allows just over a goal a game, and goalkeeper Oscar Ustari saves 75.9 percent of shots on target.    

How to make Liga MX picks for Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul

Green has analyzed this matchup and is going under the total (2.5 goals), and he's also revealed his best bets and analysis for Saturday's showdown. He's only sharing his top picks here

So who wins Pachuca vs. Cruz Azul? And where does all the betting value lie? Visit SportsLine now to see the top picks for Cruz Azul vs. Pachuca, all from the proven soccer expert who has generated $19,000 for $100 bettors since the 2017-18 season.