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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. Toluca

Santos has a good opportunity to get some points at home against a flagging Toluca side.

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Santos Laguna v Veracruz - Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

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

Date: Sunday, April 18th

Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AR1: Jorge Antonio Sánchez Espinoza, AR2: Juan Carlos Salinas Salinas, 4TH: Brian Omar Gonzalez Veles, VAR: Carlos Ayala Cuéllar, AVAR: Oscar Mejia Garcia

Television: United States - FOX Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - FOX Sports 2; Belize - FOX Sports 2; Costa Rica - FOX Sports 2; Dominican Republic - FOX Sports 2; El Salvador - FOX Sports 2; Guatemala - FOX Sports 2; Honduras - FOX Sports 2; Nicaragua - FOX Sports 2; Panama - FOX Sports 2; Venezuela - FOX Sports 2

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

All-time record: Toluca holds the all time record across all competitions, winning 32 games to Santos’ 28, 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, Santos won 2-1 at Estadio Nemesio Díez back on September 20, 2020 thanks to goals from Gael Sandoval and Octavio Rivero, while Toluca’s lone goal was from Michael Estrada. The last time they met in Torreón, Santos administered a 4-0 beating back on February 24, 2019 with goals from Ayrton Preciado, Javiér Correa, and a brace from Diego Valdés. 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 Leon - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Fernando Gorriarán is back in training with Santos, however his status is unknown heading into the match against Toluca.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

After losing on the road to Querétaro last week, Santos desperately needs points if they’re going to bypass the repechaje and make the Liguilla. They return to TSM where they’ve been virtually unstoppable to host Toluca, who are winless in their last five. Santos enters the week three points behind Monterrey, who have a game in hand and will face Chivas on Wednesday in addition to their regularly scheduled games. This game is also the culmination of Santos’ charity drive Guerretón.

Santos has had a bit of good news this week as Fernando Gorriarán is back in training, however his status for the match against Toluca is still up in the air. Gorriarán suffered from a sports hernia a few weeks ago and was able to rest and avoid surgery. His leadership on the pitch as well as his indefatigable work rate are something the team could use at this moment to help push them toward the playoffs.

Toluca v Monterrey - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Hernán Cristante’s return to Toluca started off well but has gone off the rails over the past few weeks.
Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

Toluca comes to town having gone ice cold after a hot start. They’ve had some tough results against some tough teams, but they also had some poor results against poor teams and as well as the team played at the beginning of the season it can’t be what Hernán Cristante expected when he returned to the club at the start of the season.

At the start of the season, Toluca was scoring a lot and not letting goals in all at the same time. In their recent run of form, they’ve scored goals but let in a lot (like in their 4-4 draw against Puebla) or haven’t scored many while letting in a few (like their 2-1 losses to both León and Rayados). They’ve been inconsistent down the stretch, but Santos can’t overlook them. The quality is there in the players, however they have to be more consistent if they’re going to stand a chance.

The conventional wisdom says this match is Santos’ to lose, but conventional wisdom is anything but conventional in Liga MX. Santos needs to get some production from their offense to compliment the standout performances from goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo. Both Jesús Ocejo and Santiago Muñoz are good forwards who have the tools to develop into great forwards, and while Toluca is a good defense they’re not invincible. If they can get hot, it will serve Santos well heading into the playoffs.