Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club de Fútbol Pachuca
Date: Saturday, November 21st
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 1:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)
Referees: REF: Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava, AR1: Pablo Israel Hernández Luna, AR2: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, 4TH: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, VAR: Carlos Ayala Cuéllar, AVAR: Fabrice Paul Plancon-jallet
Television: United States - FOX Deportes; Mexico - FOX Sports 2; Belize - FOX Sports 2; Costa Rica - FOX Sports 2; Dominican Republic - FOX Sports 2; El Salvador - FOX Sports 2; Guatemala - FOX Sports 2; Honduras - FOX Sports 2; Nicaragua - FOX Sports 2; Panama - FOX Sports 2; Venezuela - FOX Sports 2
All-time record: The teams are deadlocked, with each winning 21 with 22 draws between them across all competitions. Santos has a 20 to 18 lead in Liga MX play, with 19 draws. The teams met when were both in the Segunda División A (now Ascenso MX), with Pachuca winning twice, Santos winning once, and the clubs drawing once over the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons. The clubs also drew 1-1 in the 2008-09 SuperLiga and met in the 2018 Apertura Copa MX tournament, with Pachuca winning once and the teams drawing once as well. In their last match, the clubs drew 1-1 in Torreón back on October 18. Both goals came before the end of the first half, with Luis Chávez scoring for Pachuca and Julio Furch converting a penalty for Santos.
Santos Laguna will host Pachuca in a one-off match to determine who continues on into the Liguilla and whose season ends on Saturday. Santos finished the season strong, winning five of their final seven matches including a 4-0 win over Mazatlán in the final week that leapfrogged them over Pachuca and into a home match. This is huge, as Santos has lost just one match out of their last thirty-one at TSM. That lone blemish was a 2-1 loss to Pumas in Week 9.
Santos has really found their form as the season has gone on. Since a Week 10 loss to Tigres at El Volcán, Santos has outscored their opponents 14-5. Gael Sandoval has found his scoring touch, scoring twice and creating headaches for opposing full backs. Julio Furch has scored four across that span, and even center back Hugo Rodríguez has gotten in on the action, scoring twice in the critical match against Mazatlán.
Their defense has been solid for most of the year as well. Rodríguez and fellow center back Matheus Dória are a formidable pairing in the back and have helped goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo mature considerably during his first full season as the starting goalkeeper for Santos. Acevedo is displaying the athleticism you’d expect from a young goalkeeper looking to earn his place while also showing an incredible level of maturity and understanding of the game.
Pachuca will be a tough test for Santos. Their defense is tied with León for fewest goals allowed over the season with a paltry 14, however there’s conflicting reports on whether goalkeeper Oscar Ustari has passed a COVID test and will be available for selection. If not, Francisco Torgnascioli will get his second straight start. Torgnascioli and Los Tuzos ended their season with a 1-0 loss against Necaxa, losing on a free kick from David Cabrera in stoppage time.
Offensively, Pachuca has struggled. Their 18 goals on the season have them in 13th place overall, only seven of which came on the road. Víctor Dávila’s five goals lead the team, with Víctor “Pocho” Guzmán’s four coming in a close second.
It will most likely be a tight match like the last time the clubs bet, however Santos has really come into their own over the past few matches and if Ustari and Gustavo Cabral can’t play due to positive COVID tests it will be an even harder uphill climb for Pachuca. But it’s the playoffs, and if 2020 has taught us anything it’s that nothing is to be taken for granted.