Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Deportivo Toluca Fútbol Club S.A. de C.V.
Date: Sunday, February 24th
Time: 7:06 p.m. Eastern, 6:06 p.m. Central, 4:06 p.m. Pacific, 11:06 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)
Referees: REF: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AR1: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, AR2: Marco Antonio Bisguerra Mendiola, 4TH: Roberto García Orozco
Santos Laguna (3W 2D 2L) has been unstoppable at home, losing only one regular season Liga MX game since the start of 2018. This week they’ll face a bit of a different challenge, hosting Toluca (2W 1D 4L) after returning from a midweek Concacaf Champions League date in Honduras. This past Wednesday, Santos played its first team and got a first team result, demolishing CD Marathón 6-2 in San Pedro Sula. Javier Correa lead the attack, getting a hat-trick and making the Concacaf Best XI along with defender Matheus Doría who also scored a goal.
Santos is playing great soccer and the players all finally seem to be on the same page. Manager Salvador Reyes will most likely need to make some substitutions either in this game or the next to prevent the players from burning out. The trick will be doing this without disrupting the chemistry and flow the first eleven players have developed.
Toluca also played a midweek Concacaf Champions League match, suffering a 3-0 defeat at the hands of Sporting Kansas City in Kansas on Thursday. They too will need to rotate some players, however since they haven’t won in their last six games across all competitions that’s not a surprising ask.
Toluca’s issues all stem from a lack of offense. In their six game winless streak, their only goal came thanks to Adrian Mora in the 1-1 draw against Cruz Azul (2W 2D 3L) back on February 10. Someone needs to step up and score goals in order for Los Diablos Rojos to win games. Enrique Triverio had a hat trick in Toluca’s season opener against Monarcas Morelia (1W 1D 5L) but has been silent since. Alexis Canelo is out with a broken leg for another two to four weeks at least and Argentine Emmanuel Gigliotti, who was brought in to replace Alexis Vega, has yet to score. Midfielder Antonio Rios will miss the match due to a red card from last week’s loss to León (4W 2D 1L). Manager Hernán Cristante is also suspended for anti-sporting behavior from the match.
Still, Santos needs to do a professional job against Toluca despite their recent woes. Santos’ defense must account for Triverio, Gigliotti, and Luis “Quick” Mendoza and not look past this team. With the crowd at Estadio Corona TSM behind them, Los Guerreros will have an advantage for the taking.