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Match preview: Toluca vs. Santos Laguna

Santos looks to improve their road record and pick up some badly needed points, but Toluca has been tough at home.

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Toluca v Santos Laguna - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Game: Deportivo Toluca Fútbol Club S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.

Date: Sunday, September 20th

Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, 5:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Nemesio Díez (Toluca, Edomex.)

Referees: REF: Adonai Escobedo González, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: José Alfredo López Cruz, 4TH: Saul Alfredo Silva Pineda, VAR: Oscar Macías Romo, AVAR: Oscar Mejia Garcia

Television: United States - TUDN, Univision, ESPN Deportes; Mexico - TUDN; Belize - ESPN Play Norte; Colombia - Canal 1; Costa Rica - ESPN Play Norte, TUDN; Dominican Republic - ESPN Play Norte; El Salvador - ESPN Play Norte, TUDN; Guatemala - ESPN Play Norte, TUDN; Honduras - ESPN Play Norte, TUDN; Nicaragua - ESPN Play Norte, TUDN; Panama - ESPN Play Norte, TUDN;

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), Sling TV (Free trial + monthly subscription), TUDN En Vivo, ESPN+, Vidgo (Free trial + monthly subscription)

All-time record: Toluca holds the all time record across all competitions, winning 32 games to Santos’ 27, with 23 draws between the clubs. The clubs have only met outside of Liga MX on three occasions, with Santos winning their meeting in the 2003-04 Interliga 2-0, Santos beating Toluca 2-1 and Toluca beating Santos 2-0 in the 2018 Copa MX Apertura tournament. The last time the clubs met, they tied 2-2 at Estadio Nemesio Díez. Notably, Toluca defeated Santos in the 2000 Verano tournament for their sixth title and in the 2010 Bicentenario for their tenth and most recent title. Santos however won their sixth and most recent title against Toluca in the 2018 Clausura.

Santos Laguna v Pumas UNAM - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
David Andrade is the latest to play left back for Santos, who still struggle with allowing goals.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

Santos Laguna (2W 3D 5L) continues on the road, heading to Toluca to take on Los Diablos Rojos (4W 1D 5L) in the Sunday noon (Central Time) match. Santos has performed well in fits and starts this season, but has yet to put it all together in any sort of consistent matter. Santos is struggling to score goals, getting shut out for the third time in their last match against Tigres (3W 5D 2L). Their ten goals scored is 14th in the 18 team league, and only midfielder Fernando Gorriarán has more than two goals this season.

Goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo has performed admirably, but having an inconsistent back line in front of him has hurt Santos defensively. Playing Félix Torres, Jonathan Díaz, and lately David Andrade at left back with varying degrees of success hasn’t helped, and the left side of the pitch is still a huge question mark. The defense overall has struggled mightily on the road, allowing 12 goals against in their six games away from Torreón so far this season. Only Toluca has allowed more on the road with 15.

Puebla v Toluca - Torneo Guard1anes 2020 Liga MX
At 36, Rubens Sambueza can still play and can still get under opponents’ skin.
Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

At home it’s been a different story however, as Toluca has allowed just five goals at La Bombonera. Playing at altitude under the hot noon day sun has become quite the home field advantage for Toluca, as they’ve won all but one game at Estadio Nemesio Díez this season, a 1-0 loss in Week 9 against FC Juárez (3W 4D 3L).

Alexis Canelo has five goals in seven games for Toluca, however he hasn’t scored since Week 5 against Tigres when he scored two including the game winner in the 92nd minute. Toluca is also getting good performances from the seemingly ageless Rubens Sambueza. The 36 year old has one goal in his ten games, but Sambu can still do what he does best: be an irritant to the other team and get them more focused on his antics than the game at hand.

Santos will need to ignore Sambueza’s tricks and play their best road game to date. They’ll need to shift someone to the left to add defensive grit and hope someone can step up and generate a goal. Toluca on the other hand will try and suffocate Santos’ offense while creating space between the midfielders and defense for Sambueza, Antonio Ríos, and Canelo to work.