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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. Tigres UANL

Santos’ defense and Tigres’ offense have seemingly found their respective strides after struggling. They’ll test each other out Sunday evening.

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FBL-MEX-SANTOS-PUMAS Photo by ANDRES GALINDO/AFP via Getty Images

Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Tigres de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León

Date: Sunday, February 16th

Time: 7:45 p.m. Eastern, 6:45 p.m. Central, 5:45 p.m. Pacific, 12:45 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio TSM Corona (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, AR1: Miguel Ángel Hernández Paredes, AR2: Telly Salvador Saldivar Guzman, 4TH: Edgar Ulises Rangel Araujo

Radio: 92.3 FM (Torreón/Gómez Palacio/Lerdo)

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

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling TV (Free trial + monthly subscription), FOX Sports GO, La Caliente Torreón 92.3 FM (Audio only)

All-time record: Across all competitions, Tigres holds the lead with 28 wins to Santos’ 23 with 28 draws between them. In Liga MX play, Tigres has won 23 to Santos’ 20 with 28 draws. Most notably, Tigres beat Santos in the 2011 Apertura Final for their third championship, while Santos advanced past Tigres in the 2012 Clausura semifinal en route to their fourth championship. Tigres also defeated Santos in the 2018 Campeon de Campeones and in the 2018-19 Concacaf Champions League semifinal round. The last time the clubs met, Tigres beat Santos 4-0 at El Volcán back on October 5, 2019 thanks to braces from André-Pierre Gignac and Lucas Zelerayán. The last time they met in Torreón, a brace from Jonathan Rodríguez and a goal from Julio Furch gave Santos the 3-1 win. Eduardo Vargas converted a penalty for Tigres’ lone goal.

Santos Laguna v Monterrey - Copa MX 2020
Santos’ defense has struggled at times, but using Hugo Rodríguez has seemed to provide some stability over the past two games.
Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images

Santos Laguna (1W 2D 2L) returns home to host Tigres UANL (2W 1D 2L) this weekend in a critical match for both teams. While both teams are used to being at the top of the table, both have struggled mightily this season. Santos sits in 15th place, their only win of the season coming against León (4W 0D 2L) back in week two. Since then, they were blown out by Cruz Azul (2W 1D 2L) and drew Pumas (3W 2D 0L) at home and Puebla (1W 1D 3L) away.

Santos is getting greater contribution from Julio Furch, who has scored in the past two straight games after a seven match drought. Furch, along with Brian Lozano and Eryc “Culebra” Castillo have been augmented up top by the play of Eduardo “Lalo” Aguirre. Aguirre was switched in the starting lineup for attacking midfielder Diego Valdés, and Lalo’s forward play has created space for Furch and others to work.

Santos has also been focusing more on the defensive side of the ball lately, swapping out young Félix Torres for more experienced center back Hugo Rodríguez. This has seen the goals against drop from eight over the first three games to just three over the past two, including keeping Pumas to just one. For context, Pumas has scored eleven in their four other games this season.

Tigres UANL v Chivas - Torneo Clausura 2020 Liga MX
André-Pierre Gignac has three of Tigres’ five goals on the season.
Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

This focus on defense is going to be critical with Tigres coming to town. Tigres has struggled this season, but they have the talent to compete with most anyone in the league. André-Pierre Gignac turned 34 in December but is still one of the most fearsome players in the league for defenses to have to account for, especially considering the supporting cast around him. Enner Valencia, Luis Quiñones, Eduardo Vargas, and Julián Quiñones all provide Gignac time and space on the ball and force defenses to account for where they are as well.

For all of this offensive firepower, Tigres has struggled to score this season. Their three goal outburst against Chivas (1W 3D 1L) last week aside, they’ve scored just two goals in four games and were shut out by Atlético San Luis (), América (), and Pachuca (). If Santos can keep Tigres’ offense bottled up, they have a very good chance of getting a positive result against their neighbors to the east.