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Cruz Azul will be aiming to continue their resurgent run of recent form when they host the struggling Santos Laguna on Sunday night from the Estadio Azteca.
These two teams have been on opposite ends of the form spectrum: Cruz Azul have won three of their last five games to pick up a total of 10 points in that period while Santos Laguna have lost four of their last five, which has left them reeling at the bottom of the Liga MX standings with just two points in six games.
Cruz Azul were nowhere near their best but still managed to find enough offensive depth and rhythm to cruise past Toluca on the road 4-1. Juan Escobar opened the scoring in the seventh minute but Toluca equalized shortly after.
A more open second half resulted in plenty of gaps in the final third as Carlos Alberto Rodriguez broke the deadlock in the 64th minute before Santiago Gimenez closed the game with a late brace.
Impressively, Cruz Azul were able to dominate the game despite failing to find efficiency in key offensive metrics.
Cruz Azul had a passing accuracy of just 75 percent as they completed 332 passes. In terms of possession, they had just 47 percent of the ball but were significantly better in their transition from defense into the final third.
Cruz Azul had a high conversion rate of shots taken to shots on goal (11 shots taken, 5 on target).
If you extrapolate some of this offensive efficiency over the course of a season, you will see why Cruz Azul have been so successful.
They have scored 11 goals in six games this season. Only six teams have scored 10 or more goals this season. In a slow-moving league like the Liga MX, a strong offensive core can create a point of differentiation.
Defensively, Cruz Azul have still managed to stay compact at the back, conceding six goals at an average of one per game. That has resulted in a goal difference of +6, which is second-best in the Liga MX. If Cruz Azul can maintain this effectiveness on either end of the soccer pitch, then Santos Laguna are simply no match in this game.
Santos Laguna are the only team in the Liga MX not to have won a single game this season. That is usually a recipe for disaster irrespective of the standard of a league.
Santos Laguna have drawn two and lost four to pick up just two points this season, which has left them reeling at the bottom of the Liga MX standings.
There were signs of defensive solidity coming back to their game in a goalless draw against Juarez on the road in their previous game.
Santos Laguna were able to ensure that Juarez failed to find even one shot on target. Offensively, they had 11 shots with three on target in that game.
While there were some promising signs in that game, it also showed the flip side where Santos Laguna were simply unable to break down a team in the final third despite having several metrics in their favor. Lots of work to be done.
Santos Laguna have the joint worst defensive record this season. They have conceded 13 goals in six games, equal to a rash Club America unit. However, with only six goals scored, they have the worst goal difference in the league at -7.
There are teams above them who have shown they can muster points despite having a poor goal difference.
Toluca, for example, have managed to climb to seventh on the points table despite having a goal difference of -4 (7 goals scored and 11 conceded). Santos Laguna will need to find similar results, and quickly, to stand any chance of making progress in the Liga MX standings.
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|Teams||Cruz Azul vs Santos Laguna|
|Location||Estadio Azteca, Mexico|
|Time||Sunday, February 27 at 8pm EST|
|How to watch||Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes|
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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