Game: Club de Fútbol Tigres de la Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Saturday, September 12th
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Universitario (San Nicolas de los Garza, N.L.)
Referees: REF: César Arturo Ramos Palazuelos, AR1: Christian Kiabek Espinosa Zavala, AR2: Miguel Angel Chua Ortiz, 4TH: Louis Adrian Vielmas Valdez, VAR: Angel Monroy Bello, AVAR: Jonathan Hernandez Juarez
All-time record: Across all competitions, Tigres holds the lead with 28 wins to Santos’ 24 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, Santos prevailed 2-1 in Torreón thanks to a brace from Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre, while André-Pierre Gignac pulled one back for the visitors. The last time the clubs met at El Volcán, Tigres beat Santos 4-0 at back on October 5, 2019 thanks to braces from Gignac and Lucas Zelerayán.
Santos Laguna (2W 3D 4L) suffered their first defeat at home in over a year and a half on Wednesday night, losing 2-1 to UNAM Pumas (5W 4D 0L). They’ll now head a few hours drive to the east where they’ll face off against Tigres UANL (2W 5D 2L), who have only lost once at home this season.
Santos has had a tough season. The loss of superstar winger Brian Lozano to a broken leg in training camp has rendered the offense toothless. They quite simply haven’t been able to adapt to Lozano’s absence. Gone are the slashing runs inside, the perfectly weighted crosses from the touchline, and perhaps more importantly the wisdom to recognize which tact is more likely to lead to a goal in a given situation.
To compensate, Santos has tried mostly to play through the middle of the pitch, but that allows teams to simply drop players back and clog up passing lanes. They’ve only scored ten goals in nine games, and box-to-box midfielder Fernando Gorriarán leads the team with three. Forwards Octavio Rivero (2) and Julio Furch (1) haven’t been able to produce, which lead to team captain Furch sitting on the bench for the first half of the match against Pumas.
To put this in perspective, André-Pierre Gignac has two less goals on the season than Santos. His eight goals lead the league and although he’s approaching 35 years old, he’s inarguably the biggest scoring threat the league has seen in quite a long time. And while time waits for no one, it certainly seems to be taking it easy on him.
Tigres has been wildly inconsistent though, and that’s been their issue this season. They’ve played hard-fought draws against Pumas and León (5W 3D 1L), but were also beaten 3-1 by Chivas (3W 3D 3L) in their last game at home and drew lowly Mazatlán (2W 3D 4L) 1-1 on the road.
While Tigres will look to be more consistent, Santos will need to break up the monotony and avoid entering a losing streak which could end their Liguilla hopes. Both teams are capable of winning this one, and the one who shows up closer to their best version will be the one leaving with points at the end of the night.