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● Club Necaxa have picked up 12 points in 12 games and are currently in 13th place, just outside the playoff qualifying spots
● Santos Laguna’s points tally stands at 15 after 12 games, and they are ninth on the table, more than 30 points off the top
● In the Apertura season, when these two sides met, Santos Laguna beat Necaxa 3-1
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Club Necaxa look eager to repeat the feat they achieved during the Apertura season. The side clinched the final playoff spot with only a one-point advantage. They are hovering right outside the qualification spots this season and will probably nab the last one towards the end of the Clausura season.
The Apertura season was pleasing for Santos Laguna as they finished third, behind top contenders Club America and CF Monterrey. However, inconsistency has crept in during the Clausura season, and the gap between third place and Santos Laguna is at seven points with five games to go.
The Apertura fixture between these two sides was predictable as Santos Laguna were rampant. However, this time around, the ground is even, and the chances of this one ending in a tightly-contested stalemate are high.
The head-to-head statistics are almost evenly balanced after 15 Liga MX encounters between the two teams. Santos Laguna are edging ahead as they have emerged victorious on eight occasions, while Club Necaxa have won six times. Only one game out of 15 has ended in a draw.
In the last five encounters between the two clubs, Santos Laguna have won three, and Club Necaxa have won the other two. The only fixture that ended in a draw was the one in Clausura 2017 when a late goal from Club Necaxa held Santos Laguna to a 2-2 draw.
The 16th clash between these two sides will be at the Estadio Victoria. While Santos Laguna have a better overall head-to-head record against Club Necaxa, the latter has a slightly better record at home against the former. In seven home games against Santos Laguna, Club Necaxa have won four times, while Santos Laguna have won the other three.
The last time Club Necaxa missed out on the Liga MX playoff qualification was in the 2021 Apertura season when they finished 14th and level on points with Mazatlan FC and Atletico de San Luis. The latter clinched the final playoff spot because of a superior goal difference.
In the 2022 Clausura season, Club Necaxa bounced back and finished 9th before qualifying for the playoffs yet again in the 2022 Apertura season by just a solitary point. They could make it three consecutive playoff qualifications this season, but it will be a tricky task.
Club Necaxa are outside the qualification zone but only just. They are level with Atlas FC on points but are on the wrong side of the qualification spots because of an inferior goal difference. Necaxa will have to pick up points in most of the remaining fixtures to cement a playoff spot.
Club Necaxa cannot be dubbed as title contenders as they are used to being near the middle of the table and sometimes have also gone toward the bottom. Playoff qualification remains the primary target of the club year after year.
However, Club Necaxa will have to kick it up a notch to clinch playoff qualification this season. The side have only won three out of their last ten games, and two of those have come against clubs that are struggling near the bottom of the table.
Defensively, the club is putting in decent performances, as none of their losses have been by a margin of more than one goal. They almost held CF Monterrey to a draw and lost only by a goal against Tigres UANL.
In the final third, the situation has been quite challenging for Club Necaxa. Out of their three wins this season, only one was by a margin of more than a single goal and that came in the game against Pumas UNAM when Club Necaxa beat them 3-1.
Club Necaxa have scored 14 goals so far this season. Edgar Mendez and Ricardo Monreal have been involved in most of them. Mendez has scored five goals, while Monreal has scored two and assisted three. Club Necaxa will rely on the duo, not just for the next match, but for the rest of the season as well.
Santos Laguna will be disappointed with their performance in the Clausura season so far. The side was prolific in the Apertura season, but they failed to carry that momentum into the 2023 Clausura season and all their fixtures are mercurial.
This season, Santos Laguna have registered back-to-back wins only once and that happened in January. After that, the club has only managed to win two out of nine games. In the last five fixtures, the inconsistency has been quite evident.
Deportivo Toluca hammered Santos Laguna 5-0 after which the latter bounced back with a 3-2 win over Club Puebla. Before they could gather momentum, Santos Laguna suffered a 2-0 defeat against CD Guadalajara. Again, the club bounced back with 3-2 win over Club Tijuana before they were beaten by Club Leon 4-1.
Apart from the inconsistent performances, Santos Laguna also have to deal with the absence of a key figure at the heart of the defense. In the 4-1 loss against Club Leon, center-back Hugo Rodriguez received his marching orders after a straight red near the half-hour mark.
Felix Torres came on as a substitute and slotted alongside Matheus Doria in defense but a rampant Club Leon side scored a couple more past them. Torres is expected to start with Doria in defense when they take on Club Necaxa.
It will be interesting to see how the two play alongside each other and how effectively they can deflect attacks, especially from Monreal and Mendez, who are both hungry for goals, while their club remains hopeful in the playoff qualification race.
Ten out of the 18 goals scored by Santos Laguna this season have come because of Harold Preciado. The Colombian striker has scored six and assisted four goals in 12 appearances and is in scintillating form.
Santos Laguna could receive another boost in the next match if Eduardo Aguirre is deemed fit enough to enter the matchday squad against Club Necaxa. The 24-year-old striker has been out of action since January due to a back injury.
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● Teams: Club Necaxa vs Santos Laguna
● Location: Estadio Victoria
● Time: Friday, March 31 at 9:05 pm ET
● How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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