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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. Cruz Azul

After a solid win on the road, Santos returns to their fortress TSM to face Cruz Azul.

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Santos Laguna v Cruz Azul - Final Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Deportivo Social y Cultural Cruz Azul Asociación S.A. de C.V.

Date: Sunday, August 1st

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Jorge Isaac Rojas Castillo, AR1: Enríque Isaac Bustos Díaz, AR2: Michel Ricardo Espinoza Avalos, 4TH: Mario Humberto Vargas Mata, VAR: Oscar Macías Romo, AVAR: Leon Vicente Barajas Anzures

Television: United States - FOX Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - TUDN

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

All-time record: Cruz Azul holds the advantage all-time across all competitions, winning 34 to Santos’ 24 with 17 draws between them. All but three matches were in Liga MX play: a two leg quarterfinal series in the 2010-11 Concacaf Champions League that Cruz Azul won 5-1 on aggregate, and a quarterfinal match in the 2017 Clausura Copa MX that Cruz Azul won 3-1. The last time the teams played was a two-leg series in the 2021 Guard1anes Final that Cruz Azul won 2-1 on aggregate.

Santos Laguna v Necaxa - Torneo Clausura 2020 Liga MX
For the first time since March 2020, Brian Lozano will be dressed for a Santos home game.
Photo by Armando Marin/Jam Media/Getty Images

After a triumphant start to their season, Santos Laguna (1-0-0) returns to Torreón to face Cruz Azul (0-0-1). the team that bested them in last season’s Final. Santos put up a convincing 3-0 win over Necaxa last week and welcomed the return of Brian Lozano from an injury 15 months ago. Lozano was solid in the match, picking up 34 minutes.

Though striker Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre is out with the Olympic team, Santos looked great in the attack and got goals from Juan Ferney Otero, Alberto Ocejo, and Diego Valdés. Midfielder Alan Cervantes is also out with the national team in the Gold Cup, however Roni Prieto put in a solid shift in his absence. Manager Guillermo Almada should feel confident in the lineup he put out last week, however he may decide to change it up a bit to adjust for Cruz Azul’s style of play.

Cruz Azul v Atlas - Torneo Guard1anes 2021 Liga MX
Jonathan Rodríguez (left) and Yoshimar Yotún (right) should be available for selection after being granted an extra week to recover from a rigorous offseason.
Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Cruz Azul had a dismal outing last week, losing at home to Mazatlán FC 2-0. Orbelín Pineda is out with the national team at the Gold Cup, and both Sebastián Jurado and Luis Romo are with the team at the Olympic Games. With Jurado in Tokyo and Jesús Corona injured, Andrés Gudiño was in goal last week. Jonathan Rodríguez was also absent, as the striker was in Uruguay on vacation after playing the entire post-season with Cruz Azul and then the Copa América with Uruguay. It’s expected that both “Cabecita”and Yoshimar Yotún, who was in a similar situation with the Perú National Team, will be available against Santos.

Cruz Azul is still a very tough team without Jurado, Pineda, Romo, and Corona. Getting a rested Rodríguez and Yotún back will help, and they still have a young star in Santiago Giménez as well as a solid cadre of players like Brayan Angulo, Rafael Baca, Lucas Passerini, Ignacio Rivero, Julio César “Cata” Domínguez, and José Joaquín “Shaggy” Martínez who all contribute every time they step onto the pitch.

Emotions will be running high, as it’s the first match of the season at TSM, and it’ll be against the last team to play there who defeated them in the Finals. Brian Lozano will dress for a home game for the fist time in almost a year and a half, and the crowd will be electric.