Game: Club de Fútbol Pachuca vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Monday, April 26th
Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Hidalgo (Pachuca, Hgo.)
Referees: REF: Diego Montaño Robles, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: Edgar Magdaleno Castrejon, 4TH: IváEdgar Allan Morales Olvera, VAR: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo, AVAR: Igor Itzsvan Flores Florian
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All-time record: Pachuca has a slight lead over Santos across all competitions, winning 22 to Santos’ 21 with 22 draws between them. Santos has a 20 to 19 lead in Liga MX play, with 19 draws. The teams met when were both in the Segunda División A (now Ascenso MX), with Pachuca winning twice, Santos winning once, and the clubs drawing once over the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons. The clubs also drew 1-1 in the 2008-09 SuperLiga and met in the 2018 Apertura Copa MX tournament, with Pachuca winning once and the teams drawing once as well. The last time the teams met, Pachuca knocked Santos out of the repechaje with a 3-0 win at Estadio Corona. In their last match in Pachuca, Tuzos won 1-0 on a Colin Kazim-Richards goal.
Santos has an opportunity to possibly avoid the repechaje if they can get points over Pachuca, the team that knocked them out of the repechaje at the end of last season. Entering the week they were tied with Monterrey, who had two chances to get points with a midweek match against Chivas and a Clásico Regiomontano match at the end of the week against archrivals Tigres. Rayados lost both, keeping them even with Santos while ahead on goal differential. Monterrey is also going to spend this week trekking to Columbus, Ohio and back for a Concacaf Champions League match against the Columbus Crew.
Santos has none of these distractions. Beat Pachuca, and they’re in the lead going into the final week with an opportunity to avoid the repehcaje.
The good news for Santos is it looks like they’ll have Diego Valdés back in the lineup, and Fernando Gorriarán might not be far behind him. Valdés will bring back a playmaking element that Santos has missed, as well as danger on free kicks from short to intermediate range. Although he’s only made three appearances this season Valdés has scored a goal, a rocket that downed Cruz Azul back in Week 1. While Santos has looked decent recently, getting players like Valdés back will only help boost confidence and give Guillermo Almada more options.
The knock on Santos this season however is that they’ve struggled on the road, and they haven’t won in Pachuca since the 2015 Clausura. Pachuca struggled early, going winless in their first nine games. Since they’ve been able to pick up four wins and could make the repechaje. Winning against Santos will go a long way to that, however it will most likely be up to their final match against San Luis as well as results elsewhere that will determine whether or not they make the postseason.
Pachuca has struggled to score this season, as evidenced by their leading goalscorers having a four-way tie with just two goals. They will also be without captain and starting goalkeeper Oscar Ustari, who picked up a red card in the last match against Monterrey. Carlos Moreno will most likely make his first start for Tuzos, with his first appearance in Liga MX coming last week after Ustari was sent off.
This game is too big to be taken for granted by either team. Santos needs as much time for players to get healthy as possible, which means skipping the repechaje and going straight into the Liguilla. Pachuca must fight simply to make the repechaje.