Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente
Date: Sunday, October 11th
Time: 8:06 p.m. Eastern, 7:06 p.m. Central, 5:06 p.m. Pacific, 12:06 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)
Referees: REF: Diego Montaño Robles, AR1: Christian Kiabek Espinosa Zavala, AR2: Karen Janett Díaz Medina, 4TH: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, VAR: Fernando Hernandez Gomez, AVAR: Arturo Cruz Hurtado
Television: United States - FOX Sports 1, FOX Deportes; Mexico - Fox Sports; Belize - Fox Sports; Costa Rica - Fox Sports; Dominican Republic - Fox Sports; El Salvador - Fox Sports; Guatemala - Fox Sports; Honduras - Fox Sports; Nicaragua - Fox Sports; Panama - Fox Sports; Venezuela - Fox Sports
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All-time record: Xolos holds the slight edge over Santos, winning five to Los Guerreros’ four with eight draws in Liga MX play. The last time the teams met Xolos got a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Camilo Sanvezzo and Mauro Lainez, while Santos’ lone goal was from Matheus Dória. Santos however thrashed a listless Xolos 4-1 in their last meeting in Torreón back on October 18. Brian Lozano, Diego Valdés, Julio Furch, and Octavio Rivero scored for Santos while Tijuana’s only goal came from Erick “Cubo” Torres.
While the rest of Liga MX has a week off for the international break, Santos Laguna (4W 3D 5L) will host Club Tijuana (4W 2D 6L) in a makeup of the Week 12 match that was postponed due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in Club Tijuana. The match marks Santos’ first match at home since ending their 26-game unbeaten streak at Territorio Santos Modelo against Pumas (6W 6D 1L) back on September 9.
Since then, Santos has turned their fortunes around. Despite losing to Tigres (6W 5D 2L) at El Volcán, Santos has gone on to beat Necaxa (3W 3D 7L) in Aguascalientes and Puebla (4W 2D 7L) at Estadio Cuauhtémoc and have a golden opportunity to pick up a third win in a row for the first time since the 2019 Apertura. The offense has come alive in the last two games, scoring four goals and limiting their opponents to just one. The goals are coming from everyone, as the four goals were from four different players (Gael Sandoval, Octavio Rivero, Julio Furch, and David Andrade).
The scoring-by-committee approach may however not work against Pablo Guede’s side, which prioritizes defensive positioning and counterattacking. Xolos have done well with this strategy in some instances, getting wins against Atlas (3W 4D 6L), Puebla, Monterrey (5W 5W 3L), and FC Juárez (3W 5D 5L). It’s also backfired, as evidenced by a heavy 4-0 defeat to América (7W 4D 2L) and a 3-0 defeat to Pumas.
Tijuana’s issue is simple: they haven’t been able to score with any regularity. While Guede’s focus on defense usually means the team is in the match (the games against América and Pumas not withstanding), they haven’t had a go-to scorer in the mold of Gustavo Bou, Avilés Hurtado, Duvier Riascos, or Dayro Moreno. They recently brought in 33-year-old Luís Leal, whose journey through international fútbol has taken him to every continent except Australia. While Leal has shown promise in his few games in Tijuana, he still has yet to actually score a goal.
A Santos win at home used to be automatic, but if existing in 2020 has taught us anything it’s that nothing is ever automatic. Santos can get back on track and start a new win streak, especially if they can get another good performance from goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo and the defense to keep Xolos off of the board. They’ll need one of the committee to step up and score, and ex-Santos goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco will have plenty of impetus to keep his old team from scoring.