Game: Impulsora del Deportivo Necaxa S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Friday, July 23rd
Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Victoria (Aguascalientes, Ags.)
Referees: REF: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, AR1: Jose De Jesus Baños Caballero, AR2: Manuel Alfonso Martinez Sanchez, 4TH: Luis Daniel Chavez Leon, VAR: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AVAR: Manuel Ernesto Glower Guerra
All-time record: Necaxa holds the all-time record across all competitions with 26 wins to Santos’ 22, while the clubs have drawn 19 times. They still hold the edge in Liga MX play, with 25 wins to Santos’ 20 and 19 draws. The other matches were in the Copa MX, with Santos wining two and losing one to Los Rayos. The last time the clubs met, Santos won 3-1 in Torreón on goals from Santiago Muñoz, Juan Ferney Otero, and Fernando Gorriarán, while the lone goal for Los Rayos was from Daniel López. In their last meeting in Aguascalientes, Necaxa won 2-1 thanks to goals from Claudio Baeza and Unai Bilbao. Matheus Dória got the lone goal for Santos in the loss.
The 2021 Apertura gets started this weekend, and Santos will be on the road against Necaxa. The match should be entertaining, with a very known quantity in Santos takes on a very unknown quantity in Necaxa. Santos should be considered slight favorites going into this, but with so much churn on the Necaxa roster it’s difficult to tell.
Santos were the runners-up in the 2021 Guard1anes tournament, and during the offseason didn’t make many moves. The big acquisition was of Alessio Da Cruz from Parma in Italy’s Serie A, and it remains to be seen how the forward will be used. He could be used up top while Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre is out with the México team in the Olympic Games, however Da Cruz is also able to play on the left wing. He could be used in that capacity, especially if Ayrton Preciado regresses any from last season and Brian Lozano takes longer to rehab that initially thought.
Necaxa will be playing their first match under their new ownership group, comprised of luminaries such as actress Eva Longoria, Fenerbahçe midfielder Mesut Özil, Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander, and executives from D.C. United of Major League Soccer. They bought 50% of the club, while the other remained in the hands of Ernesto Tinajero, who owned the club outright before.
Much like the front office, the players on the field experienced a great deal of change during the offseason. Gone are defenders Unai Bilbao, Mario de Luna, midfielders Martín Barragán, David Cabrera, and Francisco Acuña, and forwards Ian González and Juan Delgado. In their place Necaxa has brought in Fernando Meza from Argentina’s Defensa y Justicia, Agustín Oliveros from Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting Club, Jonathan González from Monterrey, Alonso Escoboza from Club América, Ángel Sepúlveda from Querétaro, Mauro Quiroga from Pachuca, and Sergio Bareiro from Paraguay’s Club Cerro Porteño. Necaxa will also be missing goalkeeper Luis Malagón, who is with the national team at the Olympic Games, so 38-year-old Edgar Hernández will most likely get the nod in net.