Game: Deportivo Toluca Fútbol Club S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Thursday, October 13th
Time: 8:06 p.m. Eastern, 7:06 p.m. Central, 5:06 p.m. Pacific, 12:06 a.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Nemesio Díez (Toluca, Edomex.)
Referees: REF: Diego Montaño Robles, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: Jose De Jesus Baños Caballero, 4TH: Daniel Quintero Huitrón, VAR: Guillermo Pacheco Larios, AVAR: Michel Ricardo Espinoza Avalos
All-time record: Toluca holds the all time record across all competitions, winning 34 games to Santos’ 29, with 24 draws between the clubs. The clubs have only met outside of Liga MX on three occasions, with Santos winning their meeting in the 2003-04 Interliga 2-0, Santos beating Toluca 2-1 and Toluca beating Santos 2-0 in the 2018 Copa MX Apertura tournament. The last time the clubs met Toluca beat Santos 2-1 at Nemesio Díez on goals by Leonardo Fernández and Jordan Sierra while Santos’ lone goal was scored by Hugo Rodríguez.
After a week and a half off, Santos finally gets back in action as they head to Nemesio Díez to face Toluca in the opening round of the Liguilla. Toluca beat FC Juárez 3-0 to advance from the repechaje on Sunday, October 9.
The good news for Santos is that the club almost has a clean bill of health, meaning that captain and center back Matheus Dória as well as for the first time this season right winger Ayrton Preciado could be available for selection. Only Roni Prieto is listed as injured with a grade one sprain on his left knee, and no one will miss the match because of yellow card accumulation, red cards, or other suspensions. All systems are go.
It will however be interesting to see how Eduardo Fentanes has positioned the club after such a long layoff. The extra time to get mostly everyone healthy is good, but training and practices only do so much. Playing at altitude in Toluca may also be a factor, which is over twice as elevated over sea level than Torreón.
Toluca meanwhile come in unbeaten in their last four and having won their last two by a combined score of 7-1. They lost only once at home this past season, a 4-1 loss at the hands of Pachuca on August 28. Over the course of the regular season, Toluca scored 27 goals and allowed 23, both of which were in the top half of the league.
Two-thirds of those goals however game from just three players, with Jean Meneses scoring seven goals on the season, Camilo Savnezzo scoring six, and Leonardo Fernández contributing five. Neither Meneses nor Fernández scored against Juárez however, with Sanvezzo, Carlos González, and Marcel Ruiz each notching one in the win. Toluca has the firepower to compete with anyone, at least in theory. González only contributed only one goal during the regular season, a career low for the striker who will be 30 in February.
Toluca has looked good lately, but Santos will be their toughest test in a while. Nemesio Díez is always a tough place to play for visiting opponents, but Santos has been playing well on the road as well as being virtually indestructible at home. It should be an entertaining start to a good series.