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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. UNAM Pumas

After a rare loss at home, Santos looks to rebound against Pumas, who needed two late goals while up a player to win their first game of the season.

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General view of Corona Stadium prior the 1st round match between Santos Laguna and Tigres UANL as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX on January 8, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

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

Date: Saturday, January 14th

Time: 10:05 p.m. Eastern, 9:05 p.m. Central, 7:05 p.m. Pacific, 2:05 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Luis Enrique Santander Aguirre, AR1: Michel Alejandro Morales Morales, AR2: Enrique Martìnez Sandoval, 4TH: Iván Antonio López Sánchez, VAR: Eduardo Galvan Basulto, AVAR: Diana Stephanía Pérez Borja

Television: United States - FOX Sports 2, FOX Deportes; Mexico - Las Estrellas, Azteca 7

Streaming: fuboTV (Subscription), Sling TV (Subscription), FOX Sports app (United States), ViX+ (Mexico)

All-time record: Pumas holds the all time record, winning 32 to Santos’ 24 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 thrashed Pumas 5-1 in CU on a brace from Harold Preciado and goals from Fernando Gorriarán, Juan Brunetta, and Leo Suárez while Juan Dinenno got a consolation goal for Pumas. The last time the clubs met in Torreón, Santos beat Pumas 3-2 on March 2, 2022 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.

Eduardo Aguirre of Santos reacts after receiving a red card during the 1st round match between Santos Laguna and Tigres UANL as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on January 8, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico.
Santos will be without forward Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre after his sending off after just 16 minutes on the pitch.
Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

After a disappointing loss to open the season, Santos will have a chance to set things right when they welcome Pumas to Torreón for a Saturday night match. Santos fell behind to Tigres in the seventh minute and while they threatened, an early second half red card to Eduardo “Mudo” Aguirre sunk any hope of a comeback.

It’s difficult to judge a team after what was effectively one half of full-strength play. Santos has stretches of good play against a tough Tigres team, but also let in a bad goal to start off the game and for a large portion of the match were chasing things instead of making them happen.

The good news is that Santos is a team that adjusts well and can handle adversity. They’ll be able to run out the same starting lineup they did against Tigres, with the lessons learned from that match as a boost.

Rafael Puente,Jr., head coach of Pumas looks on during the 1st round match between Pumas UNAM and FC Juarez as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Olimpico Universitario Stadium on January 8, 2023 in Mexico City, Mexico.
Rafael Puente, Jr. will look to lead a team to victory against Santos for just the second time in his career.
Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Pumas meanwhile comes in picking up a win under new head coach Rafael Puente, Jr., beating Juárez at home last weekend. However much like Santos, it’s unclear how much was them and how much was attributed to a red card, with Juárez’ Gabriel Fernández being sent off in the 40th minute.

Pumas looked good, but they did concede an early goal to Juárez before scoring two late, long after Fernández was shown a red card. They’ll need to play much better against a full strength Santos to get a result, which would be their first in Torreón since 2020. Puente, Jr. meanwhile hasn’t beaten Santos since he managed Querétaro to a 2-1 win back in 2018, his only victory against the club in four tries with Gallos, Atlas, and Lobos BUAP.

While it’s early in the season, this will be another opportunity for both teams to see how they stack up at full strength against a full strength opponent. Pumas will look to validate that last week wasn’t a fluke against a weakened opponent, while Santos will want to show what they’re capable of at full strength in front of their fans.