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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. UNAM Pumas

After picking up their first win of the season, Santos returns home to face a streaky Pumas on the heels of a disappointing draw in the Clásico Capitalino.

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Cruz Azul v Santos Laguna - Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Universidad Nacional, A.C.

Date: Wednesday, March 2nd

Time: 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 9:00 p.m. Central, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, 2:00 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Oscar Macías Romo, AR1: Jorge Antonio Sánchez Espinoza, AR2: Manuel Alfonso Martinez Sanchez, 4TH: Maximiliano Quintero Hernández, VAR: José Alfredo Peñaloza Soto, AVAR: Leon Vicente Barajas Anzures

Television: United States - FOX Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - TUDN, Azteca 7; Costa Rica - FOX Sports 2; Dominican Republic - FOX Sports 2; El Salvador - FOX Sports 2; Guatemala - FOX Sports 2; Honduras - FOX Sports 2; Nicaragua - FOX Sports 2; Panama - FOX Sports 2; Venezuela - FOX Sports 2

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

All-time record: Pumas holds the all time record, winning 32 to Santos’ 22 with 21 draws across all competitions. Their only meetings outside of Liga MX play were in 2020’s Copa MX matches which Santos won 5-4 on aggregate, winning the first leg 4-2 and losing the second 2-1. In their last meeting, Santos beat Pumas 3-0 in CU to clinch qualification to the repechaje on November 4, 2021, thanks to two goals from Diego Valdés and a goal from Omar Campos. Their last meeting in Torreón, Pumas won 2-1 back on September 10, 2020 becoming the first team to beat them there in almost 18 months. Juan Iturbe and Andrés Iniestra scored for Pumas, while Octavio Rivero scored the lone goal for Santos.

Carlos Acevedo of Santos celebrates the second goal of his team scored by teammate Diego Medina (not in frame) during the 7th round match between Cruz Azul and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on February 27, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Carlos Acevedo’s performance against Cruz Azul helped secure Santos’ first win and build confidence.
Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Santos are in unfamiliar territory as they head into TSM for a midweek match against Pumas: they’re coming in having won a Liga MX match, ending a six-game skid that saw Pedro Caixinha sent packing with a thrilling 2-1 win over Cruz Azul on Sunday. They’ll need to carry that confidence into the match against Pumas, who enter with a three match unbeaten run, having just drawn arch-rivals Club América on Saturday.

Santos looked like the Santos of seasons past against Cruz Azul, playing with purpose and confidence. Harold Preciado’s golazo in the fourth minute and Carlos Acevedo’s multiple saves on a penalty kick and the follow up attempts only amplified this. It wasn’t a matter of if Santos was going to equalize, but when were they going to do it. If they can harness this confidence, the team has the potential to climb out of the bottom of the table and get a spot in the repechaje.

Diogo De Oliveira (L) of Pumas gestures after being expelled from the field as Guillermo Ochoa (R) goalkeeper of America reacts during their Mexican Clausura 2022 tournament football match at the University Olympic stadium in Mexico City on February 26, 2022.
Pumas will be without Diogo, who picked up two yellow cards in the span of three minutes against América.
Photo by CLAUDIO CRUZ/AFP via Getty Images

Pumas meanwhile comes in a bit of a puzzle. They are both a team that sits in sixth place at the start of the week that hasn’t lost in three straight, and a team that couldn’t muster a goal against Club América, who sits in 17th out of 18th place, ahead of Santos only by goal differential. They’ve been erratic, with no clear pattern of who they’ve been able to beat easily and who they’ve struggled against.

Pumas has scored 11 goals on the season, four of which have come from Rógerio. They’ve also been shut out three times and haven’t scored in 225 minutes of play. Pumas is eighth in the Fair Play table, but will miss Diogo after he picked up two yellow cards in three minutes against América.

So which two teams show up will largely determine who gets the points. If Santos plays like they did against Cruz Azul, they’ll be fine. If they look discombobulated and lack confidence like they did earlier in the season, they’ll be in trouble. If Pumas turns up like they did against Toluca or Querétaro earlier in the season, they could leave Torreón with their second straight win at TSM. If they look anemic in the attack like they did against América or as defensively hapless as they did against Tigres, they’ll be in deep trouble.