It's not been an easy week for either Monterrey or Santos Laguna. On the pitch, Monterrey tumbled to a 2-1 defeat at Chivas last weekend before falling at home in the Champions League to Seattle Sounders FC. Off the pitch, the city has been reeling from Thursday's attacks on a casino that left 53 dead, leading the club to post a message with calls for peace in the city on its official website.
Santos has not been immune from the violence either, as last weekend's game against Morelia was suspended after shots rang out in the parking lot of the stadium. To boot, the team fared just as poorly as Monterrey in the CONCACAF Champions League, falling 2-0 to Isidro Metapan on its trip to El Salvador.
Now, though, the two teams will be looking to put a rough week on and off the field behind them and record a win over a fellow playoff contender. It will be the rematch of the 2010 Clausura final, which saw Santos take a 3-2 lead in the tie at home, only to fall 3-0 in Monterrey in a thrilling final. However, if these two teams want another playoff rematch, there is plenty of work to be done in the coming weeks.
After starting the season with two emphatic wins, Santos has not won in the league since a July 30 win over Atlante, a streak which has seen the club fall out of the playoff spots in the early goings, albeit with one or two games in hand on the rest of the teams in Mexico. Not helping Santos' case to snap out of its funk is the fact that the team has not won at the Estadio Tecnologico since Feb. 2002.
Monterrey hasn't had much more recent success either, its last win coming Aug. 6, though the club still sits in the top half of the table having played a full complement of games. Victor Manuel Vucetich's men can also take heart that they are slowly returning to fitness. Injuries kept star strikers Humberto Suazo and Aldo De Nigris out for much of the early season, but with the two joining the in-form Cesar Delgado in the attack, los rayados will start to look back at their imposing best. Furthermore, right back Sergio Perez received his first-ever Mexico call-up for his good form and will be looking to carry that form into Saturday's game.
Despite their continental commitments, both teams should be fresh and ready to send out full strength lineups. Monterrey used a strong lineup in the loss to Seattle, but having played Tuesday, will be adequately rested. Santos, on the other hand, sent a weakened team to El Salvador, ensuring that the starters would be fresh and ready for the weekend match in which the club most needs a win.
Right now, it is hard to see Santos getting more than a point out of this match. Both sides may not be in top form, but given Monterrey's record against Santos at home and the return of Suazo and De Nigris to the lineup complementing Cesar Delgado, it is hard to see Monterrey not scoring goals. Despite the two emphatic wins to start the season, Santos' attack hasn't been wholly convincing as of late, and the presence of Christian Benitez is starting to be missed as he bangs in the goals for America. If Santos does get anything out of the match, it will likely come down to the quality of finishing, as chances might be at a premium for the visitors. All in all though, it should be an entertaining matchup between two of Mexico's best teams to kick off your Saturday viewing.
You can catch all the action between Monterrey and Santos Laguna on Telemundo on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 8 p.m. EDT.