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Match preview: Santos Laguna vs. Puebla F.C.

Can you have a “must win” game in Week 9? Santos and Puebla just might.

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General view of Corona Stadium prior to the 16th round match between Santos Laguna and Leon as part of the Torneo Grita Mexico C22 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on April 24, 2022 in Torreon, Mexico. Photo by Jos Alvarez/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V. vs. Club Tijuana Xoloitzcuintles de Caliente

Date: Sunday, February 26th

Time: 8:05 p.m. Eastern, 7:05 p.m. Central, 5:05 p.m. Pacific, 12:05 a.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Corona TSM (Torreón, Coah.)

Referees: REF: Brian Omar Gonzalez Veles, AR1: Jose Ibrahim Martinez Chavarria, AR2: Jesus Lorenzo Soto Davila, 4TH: Yonatan Peinado Aguirre, VAR: Erick Yair Miranda Galindo, AVAR: Francia Maria Gonzalez Martinez

Television: United States - FOX Sports 2, FOX Deportes Network; Mexico - ViX+

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

All-time record: Santos holds the all time record across all competitions, winning 28 to Puebla’s 17 with 25 draws. The only time the clubs have met outside of Liga MX play was a wild win by Santos in the 2014 Apertura Copa MX Final in penalties. The last time the clubs met, Puebla beat Santos 1-0 at Estadio Cuauhtémoc on July 8, 2022 on a Gustavo Ferrareis goal. In their last meeting in Torreón, the clubs drew 1-1 thanks to goals from Alessio Da Cruz and Emanuel Gularte back on September 19, 2021.

Javier Correa (C) and Matheus Doria of Santos (R) leaving the field during the 7th round match between Santos Laguna and Toluca as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on February 23, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico.
Santos will have to move on quickly from the worst home loss in club history.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

After their worst home defeat in club history, Santos will have a shot at redemption as they host Puebla tonight. In the postgame press conference, head coach Eduardo Fentanes took full responsibility for what he called “a shameful loss” and immediately shifted focus to the match against Puebla, saying “there is no time to lament it.”

While this is the good and necessary tact to take, Santos simply must execute better. In the loss against Toluca, while they had 15 of 18 shots inside of the box, 9 of the 18 were off target and 5 more were blocked.

Federico Mancuello of Puebla gestures during the 6th round match between Puebla and Mazatlan FC as part of the Torneo Clausura 2023 Liga MX at Cuauhtemoc Stadium on February 10, 2023 in Puebla, Mexico.
Federico Mancuello is tied with two other players with two goals on the season.
Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

The good news is that they face Puebla, who have only 7 points out of a total 24 possible and have gotten just one on the road this season, a 2-2 draw against América. The bad news is that while Santos played on Thursday, Puebla is fully rested, having last played on Saturday, February 17.

Like Santos, they need to put up a good game, having lost two straight by a combined score of 5-1. They’ve allowed 17 goals this season while only scoring 10, with Guillermo Martínez, Federico Mancuello, and Emanuel Gularte all tied for the team lead with two goals each.

While Week 9 isn’t usually the time for a do-or-die game, this one very much is that for these teams. A loss by Puebla would push them even further out of the repechaje picture, while it’s possible a Santos loss could spell the end of Fentanes’ tenure with the club.