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Match preview: Atlas FC vs. Santos Laguna

Liga MX returns tonight with Santos heading to Guadalajara for the nightcap against Atlas.

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Santos Laguna v Monterrey - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Natalia Perales/Getty Images

Game: Atlas Fútbol Club vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.

Date: Friday, March 30th

Time: 11:00 p.m. Eastern, 10:00 p.m. Central, 8:00 p.m. Pacific, 3:00 a.m. UTC (Times listed are for the United States, who changed to Daylight Saving Time March 11. Most of Mexico is one hour behind per time zone.)

Venue: Estadio Jalisco (Guadalajara, Jal.)

Referees: REF: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo, AR1: Marcos Quintero Huitron, AR2: Jose de Jesus Baños Caballero, 4TH: Adonai Escobedo Gonzalez

Television: United States - Univision Deportes Network; Mexico - Azteca 7, ESPN2 Norte

Streaming: Fanatiz, fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling (Free trial + monthly subscription), Univision NOW

Chivas v Santos Laguna - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX
The last time Santos was in Guadalajara, they took three points from Chivas.
Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images

As Liga MX clubs returning from the international break, Santos Laguna (8W 2D 2L) heads to Guadalajara to face Atlas (2W 1D 9L) tonight. Santos sits atop the Liga MX table two points ahead of Toluca (7W 3D 2L), while Atlas is at the opposite end of the table. While not in immediate danger of relegation themselves, they’re two points below Lobos BUAP (2W 3D 7L) and there’s a mathematical possibility they could still face the drop to Ascenso MX.

For Santos, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that Liga MX leading goalscorer Djaniny Tavares will be returning from an injury that saw him miss the two matches preceding the break. A spokesperson for the club confirms that Djaniny has been training normally all week and accompanied the team to Guadalajara. The club will also have Jorge Villafaña, who returns from international duty with the United States.

Santos Laguna v Cruz Azul - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX
Néstor Araujo’s absence could be a big part of the story line.
Photo by Natalia Perales/Getty Images

The bad news is that during the break, Néstor Araujo was injured in Mexico’s friendly against Croatia. Araujo suffered an injury to his lateral meniscus and a grade 2 sprain of his MCL in his left knee. He will miss the remainder of the Liga MX season, however could be back in action in the Liguilla. In place of Araujo will be 33 year old Gerardo Alcoba. Alcoba has made six appearances for Santos in Liga MX play, playing a total of 70 minutes. Santos will also be missing Jorge Sanchez due to injury as well.

Atlas is playing for little more than pride at this point. They’ve lost four of their last five Liga MX matches, the lone outlier a 1-0 win against Puebla in Guadalajara on March 9. Their only other win in Liga MX was back in February against Cruz Azul (2W 6D 4L) - again at home.

Leading goalscorer Milton Caraglio is an aerial threat, and Atlas is good at providing him opportunities either from crosses in from the wings during the run of play or from set pieces. That said, Atlas has been rather toothless on offense. Their 10 goals scored is above only Veracruz (3W 3D 6L), and only four players beyond Caraglio have scored.

Atlas v Cruz Azul - Torneo Clausura 2018 Liga MX
Ravel Morrison’s last start for Atlas was back on February 17.
Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images

Atlas has a talented roster that just can’t seem to put it all together. Former Manchester United Academy player Ravel Morrison hasn’t contributed nearly as much as had been hoped while on loan from Serie A’s Lazio. Clifford Aboagye came to Atlas from Granada, but he too has struggled at times to be a consistent producer while in Mexico.

Santos can’t take this side likely however. They’ll need to do a professional job against a team fighting to ensure that they’ll be mathematically eliminated from relegation. Atlas however will have to finally be able to put it all together, which is something they haven’t been able to do very often.