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Liguilla match preview: Santos Laguna vs. Monterrey

Santos has faced no other club more than their regional rival Rayados. They’ll meet twice more to determine who moves on in the 2021 Guard1anes Liguilla.

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Santos Laguna v Queretaro - Playoff Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club de Fútbol Monterrey Rayados, A. C.

Date: Thursday, May 13th

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: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: Jorge Antonio Sánchez Espinoza, 4TH: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo, VAR: Angel Monroy Bello, AVAR: Igor Itzsvan Flores Florian

Television: United States - FS1, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Argentina - Claro Sports; Belize - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Bolivia - Claro Sports; Chile - Claro Sports; Colombia - Claro Sports; Costa Rica - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Cuba - Claro Sports; Dominican Republic - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Ecuador - Claro Sports; El Salvador - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Guatemala - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Honduras - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Nicaragua - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Panama - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports; Paraguay - Claro Sports; Peru - Claro Sports; Puerto Rico - Claro Sports; Uruguay - Claro Sports; Venezuela - FOX Sports 2, Claro Sports

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

All-time record: Monterrey holds the all time edge, winning 32 to Santos’ 26 while the teams have drawn 27 times. In Liga MX play, Monterrey holds the 27 to 23 advantage with 25 draws. In the playoffs, Monterrey won their fourth championship 5-3 on aggregate in the 2010 Apertura. Santos won their fourth championship 3-2 on aggregate in the 2012 Clausura. They also met in the quarterfinal round of the 2018 Apertura with Monterrey winning that 3-0 on aggregate, and again in the 2019 Apertura quarterfinal round where Rayados advanced 6-3 on aggregate en route to their fifth championship.

The clubs have also met in the Copa MX, with Santos winning twice to Monterrey’s once as well as in Concacaf Champions League twice with Monterrey winning both the 2011-12 Final 3-2 on aggregate and the 2012-13 Final on 4-2 aggregate. The last time the clubs met, Santos won 1-0 thanks to a great game by Matheus Dória, who scored a goal and saved one in the dying moments of the game back in February.

Santos Laguna v Queretaro - Playoff Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Fernando Gorriarán is back and healthy for Santos, scoring a goal and contributing an assist in their last game.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

Santos Laguna will face off against Rayados de Monterrey in the first leg of the Liga MX Liguilla Quarterfinals. These teams are intimately familiar with one another; with 85 prior meetings, Monterrey is the team Santos has faced off against more than any other club. From their first meeting on December 21, 1988 the teams have faced off in every imaginable competition, suffering thrilling wins and heartbreaking losses all the same.

Santos got the better of the teams when they met earlier in the year, and since then the teams were locked in a dogfight for positioning on the league table. Rayados ultimately held off Santos, getting a coveted bye into the Liguilla while Santos had to play through the repechaje. Santos used the repechaje as a motivating tool, absolutely destroying Querétaro 5-0 and they’ll come in full of confidence.

They also come in relatively healthy, with only Brian Lozano, Ulises Rivas, Jonathan Díaz and Jair González ruled out for the match. Diego Valdés and Fernando Gorriarán played in the last match, both showing little signs of having missed significant amounts of time by contributing to the win. Gorriarán and Valdés each had a goal and an assist in the win.

Tigres UANL v Monterrey - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Rogelio Funes Mori scored a team-high nine goals on the season.
Photo by Alfredo Lopez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Monterrey meanwhile had a week to get players rested after a meatgrinder of a schedule that saw them play ten matches from April 3 to May 5 in both Liga MX and Concacaf Champions League play. They had trips to the Dominican Republic and Columbus, Ohio thrown in with their regular travel in Mexico to face local rivals, so while they might not have the momentum Santos does heading into the game, they will be well rested.

In Liga MX play, Monterrey lost three of their last four matches, with their only win coming against Mazatlán FC who didn’t make the repechaje. Of course this is tempered both by the schedule they had as well as a 5-2 aggregate win over the Columbus Crew in CCL play, but this inconsistency could be damaging especially against a dangerous foe like Santos Laguna.

Monterrey has plenty of offensive weapons, and their defense is sturdy. On paper the team is one of the best in the league, but on the field they have looked more like a group of eleven really good players as opposed to a cohesive team. Rogelio Funes Mori scored nine goals during the regular season, Vincent Janssen scored four, and Aké Loba just one in his limited minutes. All three can put this team on their back and carry them, but which one of them will step up?