Game: Club Universidad Nacional A.C. vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.
Date: Sunday, August 21st
Time: 1:00 p.m. Eastern, 12:00 p.m. Central, 10:00 a.m. Pacific, 5:00 p.m. UTC
Venue: Estadio Olímpico Universitario (Coyoacán, D.F.)
Referees: REF: Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava, AR1: Jose De Jesus Baños Caballero, AR2: Rene Ramirez Ayala, 4TH: Luis Alfredo García Rodríguez, VAR: Jorge Antonio Pérez Durán, AVAR: Oscar Macías Romo
All-time record: Pumas holds the all time record, winning 32 to Santos’ 23 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. The last time the clubs met, Santos beat Pumas 3-2 in Torreón thanks to goals from Fernando Gorriarán, Harold Preciado, and an autogol from Leonel López while Pumas’ goals came from Arturo Ortíz and Juan Ignacio Dinenno. In their last meeting in CU, Santos beat Pumas 3-0 to clinch qualification to the repechaje on November 4, 2021, thanks to two goals from Diego Valdés and a goal from Omar Campos.
After a thrilling come-from-behind victory at home, Santos heads on the road to face Pumas at the historic Estadio Olímpico. Santos came into the week in sixth place with 13 points and a game in hand on most teams in the league. The bad news however is that Santos has lost all three games away from home, scoring just one goal away from the friendly confines of Estadio Corona.
Santos however has shown at times they can contend with anyone. The team is getting goals when needed at home and from various sources; the leading goal scorers on the team are Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre and the center backs Hugo Rodríguez and Félix Torres, each contributing two goals this season while seven other players have each chipped in a goal.
They’ve also been at times rather error prone on defense this season. This is compounded by Matheus Dória’s extended absence while dealing with an injury to his right ankle. Rodríguez and Torres are both good defenders but can be inconsistent at times. They’ll both need to limit the errors on the road, and a struggling Pumas team just might be the answer.
Pumas has severely underperformed this season, entering the week in 16th place although in fairness they have a game in hand against most teams in the league and two against several teams ahead of them. They looked good during the first half of their match last week on the road against Atlético San Luis before blowing a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2. This level of inconsistency has put Pumas in a precarious position, currently out of the repechaje zone and with fans’ calling for the ouster of coach Andrés Lillini.
Pumas however can’t be written off just yet. Lillini has a good nucleus of players, with Juan Ignacio Dinenno up top and the newly added Dani Alves at right back. Dinenno has struggled this season so far, scoring just one goal and being benched to start the match against San Luis. The 39 year old Alves also hasn’t looked fully comfortable with Pumas yet, playing all 360 minutes in his four appearances after joining from Barcelona.
Both of these teams really need a win to help get them on the right track. Santos needs to prove they can win on the road, and doing so under the noon sun in CU would be a confidence-builder going forward. Pumas needs to show they can right the ship, using their home field to their advantage against an opponent that’s struggled on the road. While every contest matters in the short tournament setup of Liga MX, this one could be a defining moment for both teams and their ambitions in 2022.