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Match preview: Cruz Azul vs. Santos Laguna

After brief stints in the Leagues Cup, Santos and Cruz Azul are back in Liga MX play where both hope to get the remainder of the season off to a good start.

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General view of the Azteca stadium with a person waving a large Cruz Azul flag while on the pitch prior a quarterfinal match between Cruz Azul and Chivas as part of Torneo Apertura Liga MX Femenil at Estadio Azteca on October 27, 2022 in Mexico City, Mexico. Photo by Mauricio Salas/Jam Media/Getty Images

Game: Club de Futbol Cruz Azul vs. Club Santos Laguna S.A. de C.V.

Date: Sunday, August 20th

Time: 7:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 p.m. Central, 5:00 p.m. local, 4:00 p.m. Pacific, 11:00 p.m. UTC

Venue: Estadio Azteca (Tlalpan, CDMX)

Referees: REF: Marco Antonio Ortiz Nava, AR1: José Ibrahim Martínez Chavarría, AR2: Jesús Lorenzo Soto Dávila, 4TH: Edgar Ulises Rangel Araujo, VAR: Víctor Alfonso Cáceres Hernández, AVAR: Mauricio Nieto Torres

Television: United States - TUDN, UniMás; Mexico - TUDN, Canal 5 Televisa

Streaming: fuboTV (Subscription), TUDN En Vivo, ViX+ (Subscription)

All-time record: Cruz Azul holds the advantage all-time across all competitions, winning 35 to Santos’ 26 with 18 draws between them. All but three matches were in Liga MX play: a two leg quarterfinal series in the 2010-11 Concacaf Champions League that Cruz Azul won 5-1 on aggregate, and a quarterfinal match in the 2017 Clausura Copa MX that Cruz Azul won 3-1. The last time the teams met, Cruz Azul beat Santos 3-2 at the Azteca back on April 30, with Augusto Lotti, Rodrigo Huescas, and Uriel Antuna scoring for La Maquina while Santos got goals from Diego Medina and Javier Correa.

Pedro Aquino (L) and Marcelo Correa of Santos look on during the 3rd round match between Santos Laguna and Atlas as part of the Torneo Apertura 2023 Liga MX at Corona Stadium on July 13, 2023 in Torreon, Mexico.
With three full weeks between their last game, Santos should be well-rested and prepared to face Cruz Azul.
Photo by Manuel Guadarrama/Getty Images

After a brief break since being eliminated from the Leagues Cup, Santos returns to Liga MX action as they play Cruz Azul at Estadio Azteca. A penalty shootout loss against the Houston Dynamo and a 2-1 loss to Orlando City may not have been the Leagues Cup tournament Los Guerreros thought they’d have, but it did allow them three full weeks to rest, recuperate, and game plan for the Liga MX season.

While Carlos Acevedo will likely miss most if not all of the 2023 Apertura with his shoulder injury, the rest of the squad should be fit and ready to go. Cruz Azul meanwhile will have to do without former Santos offensive midfielder Alonso Escoboza, who suffered a bruised rib on August 12 and is expected to miss around 10 days.

Cruz Azul will also have to overcome the hurdle of losing Tuca Ferretti, who was sacked after La Maquina exited the Leagues Cup tournament in a Round of 16 shootout loss to Charlotte FC on August 3. New manager Joaquín Moreno will have a tall order ahead of him, with Cruz Azul in dead last in the league with 0 points, however they’ve only played one game at home so far, a 2-0 loss to Toluca.

Santos has four points on the season, with their lone win coming on the road against Puebla in Week 2. They lost their opener against Querétaro and drew Atlas at home, and it’s early enough in the season that a win here could push them as high as third on the table. Away games are always difficult, but points against teams at the bottom of the table can be the difference between the Liguilla and repechaje, or between the repechaje and an early winter break.