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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. León

Santos has a rare homestand as they host León just four days after their last match.

Felix Torres of Santos celebrates after scoring his team´s second goal during the 11th round match between Santos Laguna and Tijuana as part of Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on October 4, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

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

Date: Sunday, October 8th

Time: 9:05 p.m. Eastern, 8:05 p.m. Central, 7:05 p.m. local, 6:05 p.m. Pacific, 1:05 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava, AR1: Alberto Morín Méndez, AR2: Jonathan Maximiliano Gómez, 4TH: Maximiliano Quintero Hernández, VAR: Edgar Allan Morales Olvera, AVAR: Joaquín Alberto Vizcarra Armenta

Television: United States - None; Mexico - None

Streaming: ViX (possible pay service)

All-time record: León holds the all time, with 21 wins to Santos’ 17 and the clubs sharing 12 draws across all competitions. All of these results have come in Liga MX play except for one draw and one León win, which happened when the teams were in the Segunda División during the 1987-88 season.

In their last meeting, León dished out a 4-1 thrashing at the Nou Camp thanks to a brace from Víctor Dávila and goals from Iván Moreno and Fidel Ambriz, while Harold Preciado scored Santos’ lone goal. The last time the clubs met in Torreón, Santos got a 2-1 win on goals from Omar Campos and Félix Torres, while Fidel Ambriz scored León’s lone goal back in August 2022.

Hector Holguin of Santos controls the ball during the friendly match between Santos Laguna and Sporting de Gijon at Corona Stadium on July 16, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico.
Héctor Holguín saved a penalty and lead his team to a victory in his first team debut for Santos last week.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

A midweek victory was just what the doctor ordered for Santos, ending a two game skid and perhaps more importantly seeing the team improve across the board. The defensive changes of Hugo Rodríguez and Raúl “Dedos” López for the injured Matheus Dória and Ismael Govea as well as switching out goalkeeper Gibrán Lajud for Héctor Holguín did wonders for Santos. Holguín especially was a difference-maker, making a couple of key saves late including stoning a penalty in the 90th minute of play.

The defensive resurgence was very much needed for Santos, who had allowed eight goals during the prior two game losing streak. It also helps that Harold Preciado is having a fantastic season, his eight goals leading the league at the start of this week. If Santos can keep both units functioning at such a high level, there’s no telling how far they can go, especially considering they have a game in hand on most teams and still entered the week in 11th place.

Nicolas Larcamón, head coach of Leon, looks on prior the 10th round match between Queretaro and Leon as part of the Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at La Corregidora Stadium on September 29, 2023 in Queretaro, Mexico.
Nicolas Larcamón will not be available for León after picking up a red card last week against Querétaro.
Photo by Cesar Gomez/Jam Media/Getty Images

León meanwhile has been on an ok run of form lately. Not great, but not bad either. One win, one loss, and three draws across the last five is about what you’d expect from a team fighting to make the repechaje. Sitting in 12th place, León can ill afford to drop too many more points if they want to be playing soccer in late November.

Nicolás Larcamón has a decent team under him, with Rodolfo Cota in goal, a midfield with Fidel Ambriz and Ángel Mena in it, and Federico Viñas and Nicolás “El Diente” López up top. They can’t seem to pull it all together though, with Viñas contributing just three goals this season and Diente López being relegated to the bench, not scoring any goals in his seven appearances this season. To make matters worse for La Fiera, Larcamón picked up a red card at the end of León’s 1-1 draw at Querétaro last week, so he won’t be in the technical area for the match.

With León floundering, Santos should be confident of picking up three points in front of their home crowd. That said, they simply can not take León for granted. While they have been underperforming, they are a talented side and one capable of playing with any side in the league if they’re firing on all cylinders. Santos can not look past them to their match against América after the international break.