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2019 Apertura Liguilla match preview: Monterrey vs. Santos Laguna

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Monterrey v Tigres UANL - Final Torneo Apertura 2017 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

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

Date: Thursday, November 28th

Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio BBVA (Guadalupe, N.L.)

Referees: REF: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: Enríque Isaac Bustos Díaz, AR2: Cesar Cerritos García, 4TH: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo

Television: United States - Fox Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - Fox Sports 2 Cono Norte

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling TV (Free trial + monthly subscription), FOX Sports GO, FOXSports.com

All-time record: Monterrey holds the all time edge, winning 30 to Santos’ 25 while the teams have drawn 24 times. In Liga MX play, Monterrey holds the 26 to 22 advantage with 23 draws. In the playoffs, Monterrey won their fourth (and last) championship 5-3 on aggregate in the 2010 Apertura. Santos won their fourth (but not their last) championship 3-2 on aggregate in the 2012 Clausura. They also met in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 Apertura, with Monterrey winning that 3-0 on aggregate.

The clubs have also met in the Copa MX, with Santos winning twice to Monterrey’s once as well as in Concacaf Champions League twice with Monterrey winning both the 2011-12 Final 3-2 on aggregate and the 2012-13 Final on 4-2 aggregate. The last time the clubs met, Santos won 2-1 at TSM back on August 23. The last time the clubs met in Monterrey however, Rayados won 4-0 Back on April 14.

Monterrey v Atlas - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX
Rogelio Funes Mori is expected to miss at least the opening match against Santos Laguna.
Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Santos Laguna was the superlíder for most of the season. Monterrey was out of the Liguilla for most of the season, squeezing into eighth place on the table in the penultimate week of the season. Usually this would be all but a formality, but Monterrey will be a formidable challenge as Santos goes for their seventh star.

Rayados aren’t your ordinary eight seed for sure. They are unbeaten in their last five, coinciding with the hiring of manager Antonio ‘Turco’ Mohamed for his second tour of duty with the club. Under Turco’s guidance, Rayados are +7 on goals and haven’t conceded a goal in 205 minutes.

Rayados have a wealth of talent, from left back Miguel Layún and center back Nicolás Sánchez up to forwards Rogelio Funes Mori, Vincent Janssen, Dorlan Pabón, and Rodolfo Pizarro. They will however have to deal without the services of Layún and Funes Mori, who teammate Jesús Gallardo said would be unavailable in a press conference earlier in the week.

Santos Laguna v Cruz Azul - Torneo Apertura 2019 Liga MX
Brian Lozano has seen a career resurgence with Santos, scoring nine goals this season and becoming a fixture for the Uruguayan National Team.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

Santos may be dealing with injuries of their own. Goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco has missed the last three of Santos’ games with an adductor injury but was in training with the club this week and could be ready to go. If not, Carlos Acevedo has performed admirably, winning two and drawing once.

Santos opted to rest most of their starters during the last game against Toluca, giving Julio Furch, Brian Lozano, Matheus Dória, Emilio Orrantía, Hugo Rodríguez, and Fernando Gorriarán the afternoon off. Santos still finished the season with 40 goals and +15 goal differential, going unbeaten in their final six and not losing a match at home all season.

This will no doubt be a good series, and whoever comes out of this one should gain a ton of confidence. Monterrey may feel pressure to get out to a hot start and take a lead back to Torreón for the second leg, however away goals may be critical in this series and they should be concerned with how many they concede. Overall, this should be one of the more entertaining series of the Liguilla.