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Match preview: Cruz Azul vs. Santos Laguna

After a difficult week, Santos now has to face one of the best teams in the league as they go up against Cruz Azul at Estadio Azteca.

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Juan Escobar of Cruz Azul celebrates after scoring the third scored goal of his team with teammates during the round of 16 2nd leg match between Cruz Azul and Forge FC as part of the Concacaf Champions League 2022 at Azteca Stadium on February 24, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

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

Date: Sunday, February 27th

Time: 8:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. Pacific, 12:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Azteca (Tlalpan, CDMX)

Referees: REF: César Arturo Ramos Palazuelos, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: Mauricio Nieto Torres, 4TH: Guillermo Pacheco Larios, VAR: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo, AVAR: Victor Alfonso Caceres Hernandez

Television: United States - TUDN, Univision, UniMás; Mexico - TUDN

Streaming: fuboTV (Subscription), TUDN En Vivo, TUDN.com

All-time record: Cruz Azul holds the advantage all-time across all competitions, winning 34 to Santos’ 24 with 18 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 on August 1 in Torreón that resulted in a 1-1 draw. Santiago Giménez scored for Cruz Azul, while a Diego Valdés penalty in the 81st minute leveled the score. Prior to that, the teams played a two-leg series in the 2021 Guard1anes Final that Cruz Azul won 2-1 on aggregate.

Fernando Gorriaran of Santos reacts during the 6th round match between FC Juarez and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Olimpico Benito Juarez on February 18, 2022 in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Santos hs drawn two and lost four so far in Liga MX play while also losing 3-1 on aggregate to CF Montréal in the Concacaf Champions League.
Photo by Alejandro Rodriguez/Jam Media/Getty Images

After a tumultuous week, Santos will attempt to usher in a new era when they head to Mexico City to face Cruz Azul. After drawing Juárez 0-0 last week, Santos went to Montréal and got blown out 3-0 by CF Montréal, which lead to the dismissal of coach Pedro Caixinha on Thursday. Caixinha was replaced by Eduardo Fentanes, who was managing Tampico Madero FC prior to his appointment. His only prior first division managerial experience was a seven game stint at San Luis FC in 2013, which ended with two draws, five losses, and San Luis being relocated to Chiapas.

Santos also comes in with team captain Matheus Dória having missed the game in Montréal with a knock he picked up against Juárez. In his place was Ismael Govea, with Franco Pizzichillo starting at right back. Hugo Rodríguez also started at center back, with Félix Torres also not on the game day roster.

Idekel Dominguez (L) of Necaxa fights for the ball with Uriel Antuna (R) of Cruz Azul during the 5th round match between Cruz Azul and Necaxa as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on February 12, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Former Santos canterano Uriel Antuna has two goals on the season so far for Cruz Azul.
Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Cruz Azul comes in having another good season, starting the week in second place with 13 points. Their offensively and defensively dangerous, scoring 11 goals while conceding just five. Carlos “Charly” Rodríguez has three goals in six games to lead the team, while Santiago Giménez, Juan Escobar, and former Santos Laguna canterano Uriel Antuna each have two.

Cruz Azul’s only loss this season however came at home, a 2-1 loss to Necaxa in Week 5. They however won the other two games, beating Tijuana 2-0 in Week 1 and Juárez 1-0 in Week 2. They’re still one of the best teams in the league, and pose a difficult challenge for any team, let alone one that has struggled as much as Santos this season.