Game: Club Puebla vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Sunday, May 23rd
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Cuauhtémoc (Puebla, Pue.)
Referees: REF: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: Andres Hernández Delgado, 4TH: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, VAR: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AVAR: José Alfredo Peñaloza Soto
All-time record: Santos holds the all time record across all competitions, winning 28 to Puebla’s 15 with 23 draws. The only time the clubs have met outside of Liga MX play was a wild win by Santos in the 2014 Apertura Copa MX Final in penalties. Santos won the first leg of this series 3-0 on Thursday, May 20. The last time the clubs met in Puebla, Santos won 2-0 on October 2, 2020 thanks to goals from Julio Furch and David Andrade. The teams have met in the Liguilla semifinals before, back in the 2001 Verano tournament. Santos and Puebla ended the series tied 6-6 but Santos advanced due to their higher seeding. They then went on to defeat Pachuca to earn the second title in club history.
Santos played an almost flawless match in the first leg of the semifinals against Puebla, netting three goals and picking up their second shutout of the Liguilla and eighth of the season. There’s still 90 minutes to go, and Liga MX is renown for the expected devolving into the unexpected at the drop of a hat.
Santos got Puebla out of their comfort zone by scoring just 40 seconds into the first match and forcing the visitors to chase the game. Puebla clearly was not prepared to be behind so early, and found themselves frustrated with almost every possession and facing a lethal Santos counterattack.
Santos’ game plan should be very similar to Thursday’s. Counterattack, play for set pieces, and maximize the opportunities. Santos doesn’t need to score, but if they can take advantage of an opportunity that comes their way it will go a long way in cementing their place in the Final. Patience and discipline will be key.
Puebla on the other hand will need to get creative. The front three of Santiago Ormeño, Amaury Escoto, and Omar Fernández wasn’t in sync, and the defense was exploited all too often by Santos to give the offense much of a chance to do anything. The good news for Puebla fans is that manager Nicolás Larcamón said in a press conference that center back Maximiliano Perg and right winger Christian Tabó are recuperating and could be available to play. Perg played just 34 minutes against Santos before leaving, and Tabó hasn’t played since being subbed off 20 minutes into the opening leg match against Atlas.
With or without Perg and Tabó, Puebla has a big problem on their hands. They have 90 minutes to score three goals while keeping Santos and their counterattack at bay. Puebla has scored three or more goals on five occasions this season, but in the Liguilla has managed just one goal (an own goal by Atlas’ Anderson Santamaría). The weight is squarely on Puebla.