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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. Toluca

A rare Thursday night match as Santos and Toluca meet in Torreón for the first time since 2021.

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A fan of Santos  in a luchador mask cheers during the 2nd round match between Santos Laguna and Pumas UNAM as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on January 14, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

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

Date: Thursday, February 22nd

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

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Fernando Guerrero Ramírez, AR1: Karen Janett Díaz Medina, AR2: Michel Caballero Galicia, 4TH: Jesus Rafael Lopez Valle, VAR: Adonai Escobedo González, AVAR: Jose De Jesus Baños Caballero

Television: United States - ESPN Deportes; Mexico - Canal 5 TUDN

Streaming: fuboTV (Subscription), ESPN+

All-time record: Toluca holds the all time record across all competitions, winning 36 games to Santos’ 29, 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 6-4 over a two leg aggregate in the Round of 16 in the 2022 Apertura Liguilla. The last time they met in Torreón during the regular season, the teams drew 2-2 back on October 24, 2021 in the 2021 Apertura.

Unai Bilbao (L) of San Luis fights for the ball with Lucas González (R) of Santos during the 8th round match between Atletico San Luis and Santos Laguna as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Estadio Alfonso Lastras on February 18, 2023 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico.
Lucas González atoned for his red card in his Santos debut, scoring the game-tying goal against Atlético San Luis last week.
Photo by Ricardo Hernandez/Jam Media/Getty Images

A short turnaround before an even shorter turnaround as Santos hosts Toluca in a rare Thursday night game. Santos drew San Luis 1-1 on Saturday and Toluca beat Pachuca 2-1 on the road on Sunday, and both Eduardo Fentanes and Nacho Ambríz will need to manage their squads well, since Santos is also hosting Puebla on Sunday and Toluca will travel home to host San Luis on Sunday as well.

Santos played a decent enough game last time out to get a draw at San Luis, but left some good opportunities on the table. Harold Preciado has four goals in seven games this season, but it was newcomer Lucas González who scored the equalizer for Santos. González made up for his first appearance, where he was shown a red card just 19 minutes after subbing on in the 2-2 draw against Club América on February 4. Santos under Fentanes hasn’t relied as heavily on a lone goal scorer to be the sole focus of the offense, so it’s incumbent on everyone to take full advantage of the chances they’re given.

Thiago Volpi goalkeeper of Queretaro during a 15th round match between Queretaro and Santos Laguna as part of Torneo Apertura 2018 Liga MX at La Corregidora Stadium on November 4, 2018 in Queretaro, Mexico.
Thiago Volpi and Toluca have kept them in games this season, allowing just seven goals in seven games.
Photo by Eduardo Reyna/Jam Media/Getty Images

As difficult as it might seem for Santos to convert chances into goals, Toluca has been even less successful, scoring on 10 to Santos 11 over seven games. Toluca has goal scorers, with Carlos González, Camilo Sanvezzo, Leonardo Fernández, and Jean Meneses having good seasons in the not-so-distant past. But only González (two) and Maximiliano Araújo (three) have more than one goal on the season so far.

Toluca’s strength however is their defense. They’ve allowed just seven goals in seven games, and Thiago Volpi and the defense have two shutouts to their name this season. On that defense is Carlos Orrantia, who spent eleven seasons with Santos and joined Toluca this season. Orrantia also has one of Toluca’s goals this season, however he hasn’t played since coming off in the seventh minute in the Week 4 match against León.

Both teams are in a tough position with what’s essentially a mid-week game sandwiched between regular weekend fixtures. Both really need to focus on getting all three points with the playoff race being so close and only three points currently separating the sides.