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Match preview: UNAM Pumas vs. Santos Laguna

Santos heads to CU for a midweek match against a struggling Pumas team.

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Pumas v Cruz Azul - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Jaime Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Club Universidad Nacional A.C. vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.

Date: Thursday, March 4th

Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 3:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Olímpico Universitario (Ciudad de México, CDMX)

Referees: REF: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: Jéssica Fernanda Morales Morales 4TH: Victor Alfonso Caceres Hernandez, VAR: Gerardo Martínez Bravo AVAR: Manuel Ernesto Glower Guerra

Television: United States - TUDN; Mexico - TUDN, ESPN2, Canal 5 Televisa; Belize - ESPN2; Costa Rica - ESPN2; Dominican Republic - ESPN2; El Salvador - ESPN2; Guatemala - ESPN2; Honduras - ESPN2; Nicaragua - ESPN2; Panama - ESPN2

Streaming: fuboTV (Free trial + monthly subscription), TUDN En Vivo

All-time record: Pumas holds the all time record, winning 31 to Santos’ 21 with 21 draws across all competitions. Their only meetings outside of Liga MX play were in last year’s Copa MX matches which Santos won 5-4 on aggregate, winning the first leg 4-2 and losing the second 2-1. In their last meeting, Pumas broke Santos’ 26 game unbeaten streak at TSM, wining 2-1 on September 9, 2020 thanks to goals from Juan Manuel Iturbe and Andrés Iniestra. Santos’ lone goal was scored by Octavio Rivero. Their last Liga MX meeting in CU was on September 28, 2019 with Pumas winning 2-0 on goals from Carlos González and David Cabrera.

Santos Laguna v FC Juarez - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Matheus Dória (L) and Santiago Muñoz each have two goals on the season.
Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Santos owes Pumas.

The last time these two teams met, Pumas (1W 2D 5L) ended Santos’ (4W 3D 1L) 26 game unbeaten run at Territorio Santos Modelo. Santos wound up bouncing back, but the dent to the psyche was evident in the weeks following. Pumas went on to the Liga MX Final, while Santos lost in the repechaje, again at TSM.

Santos has been a much more foundationally solid team this season. The defense has allowed just five goals, good for third best in the league. Their nine goals is a respectable ninth in the league, but the interesting thing about Santos is that they only have two players who have more than one goal: center back Matheus Dória and 19 year old forward Santiago Muñoz, both of whom have two.

Pumas UNAM v Leon - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Juan Ignacio Dinenno scored ten goals during Pumas’ run last season but has failed to find the net in 2021.
Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Pumas on the other hand have been nowhere near the level they were when they beat Santos in their own building. Their five points have them just two points up on last place Pachuca (0W 3D 5L).

Pumas’ issue is that they’ve scored just four goals this season, three of which came in their Week 2 win over Mazatlán FC (3W 1D 4L). A drop in scoring wasn’t totally unexpected, as the team sold Carlos González to Tigres during the offseason. But an injury to Juan Ignacio Dinenno in that match against Mazatlán left the team without a proven goalscorer, forcing the club to start 19 year old Emanuel Montejano and acquire 32 year old Gabriel Torres.

This isn’t a game Santos can take for granted however. Pumas is always tough in CU, although replacing the noon sun with the floodlights at 9 PM will lessen the home-field advantage somewhat. Pumas may also be missing goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, who missed the match against Chivas (2W 4D 2L) with a non-COVID illness. Still, Pumas has Dinenno back along with Torres and Montejano and can’t be taken lightly.