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Match preview: Toluca vs. Santos Laguna

Santos heads to Toluca to face off against Los Diablos Rojos in the historic Estadio Nemesio Díez.

General view of the field prior to the 2nd round match between Toluca and Atlas as part of the Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX at Nemesio Diez Stadium on July 10, 2022 in Toluca, Mexico. Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Deportivo Toluca Fútbol Club S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.

Date: Saturday, July 23rd

Time: 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 p.m. Central, 3:00 p.m. Pacific, 10:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Nemesio Díez (Toluca, Edomex.)

Referees: REF: Diego Montaño Robles, AR1: Andres Hernández Delgado, AR2: Michel Ricardo Espinoza Avalos, 4TH: Luis Alfredo García Rodríguez, VAR: Eduardo Galvan Basulto, AVAR: Oscar Macías Romo

Television: United States - None; Mexico - TUDN

Streaming: ViX+ (Subscription)

All-time record: Toluca holds the all time record across all competitions, winning 32 games to Santos’ 27, 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 3-1 at Nemesio Díez on goals by Daniel Álvarez, Leo Fernández, and Diego Rigonato while Santos’ lone goals was scored by Ayrton Preciado

Eduardo Aguirre of Santos celebrates after scoring the first goal of his team during the 3rd round match between Santos Laguna and Chivas as part of the Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on July 16, 2022 in Torreon, Mexico.
Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre’s goal from the bench earned Santos a draw against Chivas.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

Santos fought back despite a lackluster performance to get a tie at home against Chivas last week. They’ll look to continue that momentum when they face off against Toluca, who entered the week third in the league with six points. The good news is that Santos hasn’t done too badly in their recent trips to Toluca, getting five points in their last five visits. The bad news is that they’ve only played there once since the end of 2020, and even from then the teams are radically different than they were two years ago.

Santos looked good at times in their latest iteration, and they might not have even put out their best lineup to start. The early match front four of Javier Correa, Juan Brunetta, Jair González, and Harold Preciado up top didn’t ever really click, and it wasn’t until after Leo Suárez was brought on for Brunetta and Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre was brought on for Correa did the offense come together, leading to Mudo Aguirre’s goal in the 71st.

Claudio Baeza of Toluca leaves the field after receiving a red card during the 3rd round match between America and Toluca as part of the Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX at Azteca Stadium on July 13, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Toluca will be without captain Claudio Baeza, who was shown a red card in last week’s match against Club América.
Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

They’ll need to bring that energy to the thin air of Toluca, where Los Diablos Rojos won their only game there so far this season two weeks ago, downing Atlas in a 3-2 barnburner. The suffered their first loss of the season however last week, losing on the road 1-0 to América on a Richard Sánchez rocket in stoppage time. Toluca also lost captain Claudio Baeza for the match, as the midfielder picked up a red card in the 30th minute on a poor challenge on ex-Santos midfielder Diego Valdés.

Even without Baeza, it will not be easy to get points against Toluca. Toluca has scored six goals in three games, entering the week only trailing Monterrey and tied with Puebla and León. Leo Fernández and Valber Huerta both have two, and Fer Navarro and recent addition Camilo Sanvezzo each have one. They have the offensive talent, but their defense has allowed four goals, two of which came on corner kicks from the goalkeeper’s right side.

Both of these teams have shown they have what it takes to be Liguilla teams, but only in short spurts. Both need to be more consistent and play a solid 90 minutes of soccer. If one of them can do that this weekend, it could unlock a good run of form that propels a team deep into the Liguilla.