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Liga MX 2021 Apertura Quarterfinal match preview: Santos Laguna vs. Tigres UANL

Two very well-rounded and balanced teams face off in the Liguilla as Santos hosts Tigres at their fortress TSM.

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Ignacio Jeraldino of Santos celebrates with teammates after scoring the second goal of his team during the repechage match between Santos Laguna and Atletico San Luis as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Tigres UANL Sinergia Deportiva S.A. de C.V.

Date: Thursday, November 25th

Time: 10:05 p.m. Eastern, 9:05 p.m. Central, 7:05 p.m. Pacific, 2:05 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Oscar Macías Romo, AR1: Miguel Ángel Hernández Paredes, AR2: Leonardo Javier Castillo Rodríguez, 4TH: Brian Omar Gonzalez Veles, VAR: Gerardo Martínez Bravo, AVAR: Guillermo Pacheco Larios

Television: United States - FOX Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - TUDN, Azteca

Streaming: fuboTV (Subscription), Sling TV (Subscription), FOX Sports GO, Vidgo (Subscription)

All-time record: Across all competitions, Tigres holds the lead with 29 wins to Santos’ 25 with 29 draws between them. In Liga MX play, Tigres has won 24 to Santos’ 22 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. In their last match, the teams drew 1-1 at El Volcán with Santos’ goal coming from Fernando Gorriarán and Tigres’ goal being scored by Carlos Salcedo. The last time the teams faced off in Torreón, Santos won 2-0 on January 17 in Torreón on the back of a spectacular performance from goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo and goals from Juan Ferney Otero and Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre.

Diego Valdes (L) of Santos fights for the ball with Unai Bilbao (R) of San Luis during the repechage match between Santos Laguna and Atletico San Luis as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on November 20, 2021 in Torreon, Mexico.
Diego Valdés was Santos’ regular season leading scorer, coming in tied for seventh in the league with five goals.
Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images

Santos’ Liguilla journey continues as they host Tigres in the Ida (first leg) match. Santos comes into the match after a solid 2-0 win against Atlético San Luis in the repechaje round last weekend. Santos dominated the match, getting goals from Ayrton Preciado and Ignacio Jeraldino to advance.

Santos comes in with an almost clean bill of health. Alessio Da Cruz is still listed as being in physical conditioning, and he was not on the game day roster against San Luis. Although playing a match just five days after the last one isn’t ideal, having the home-field advantage for the opener should give them the confidence to get off to a good start.

Nicolás López #11 of Tigres celebrates with teammate Andre-Pierre Gignac after scoring his team’s first goal during the 17th round match between Tigres UANL and FC Juarez as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico A21 Liga MX at Universitario Stadium on November 06, 2021 in Monterrey, Mexico.
Nicolás “El Diente” López and André-Pierre GIgnac pose a formidable scoring threat for Tigres.
Photo by Azael Rodriguez/Getty Images

Standing in their way is Tigres, who have been resting and waiting to get their postseason underway. Tigres offense was the best in the league with 26 goals on the season, and they had co-leading scorer Nicolás “El Diente” López with nine goals playing with André-Pierre Gignac, who had only three goals on the season but is a constant threat. Their big signing Florian Thauvin however hasn’t played since Week 10 due to a torn muscle.

However while perhaps best known for their offense, their defense isn’t something to be taken for granted. They allowed just 14 goals on the season, tied with León for fourth. While Santos’ offense was second in the league with 23 goals, they’re going to have to be at their best to get any goals against a very solid defensive team.

The best case for Santos would be to get a one or two goal lead to take to Monterrey and keep Tigres off of the scoreboard. While the away goal rule has been abolished, the tiebreaker is the higher team advancing, putting Santos at a huge disadvantage. They’ll need to take something out of the match at home, or it could be tough sledding at El Volcán on Sunday.