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Guadalajara are 12-time Liga MX champions, whereas Santos Laguna are six-time Liga MX champions.
Guadalajara have improved this season. They finished in ninth place last season and are currently sitting in fourth place.
Santos Laguna got knocked out in the Apertura quarterfinals after finishing third in the league last season.
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Pick: Guadalajara to win. Both teams to score. (+100)
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Guadalajara will go into this match as favorites. They’re on a six-game unbeaten run and playing at home, whereas Santos Laguna have got one win in their last six matches.
Guadalajara underwhelmed last season after finishing in 9th – this is unacceptable for the biggest club in Mexico. Santos Laguna, on the other hand, have disappointed this season based on the form they showed last season. Guadalajara’s defense has been at the heart of their improvement – they’ve only conceded eight goals this season, which has provided the base to build from.
Santos Laguna have been woeful defensively. They’ve already conceded 19 goals, over two goals per game. They didn’t look any better last week in the defensive department despite winning their game, and it looks like that will be the deciding factor in this game. Guadalajara should edge this match, but both teams will get on the scoresheet.
The last meeting between these sides took place in July last year – it was just the third game of the Apertura season. The match ended 1-1, and Guadalajara finished the game with 10 men. Guadalajara were a bit unfortunate not to get the job done prior to Antonio Briseno’s 83rd-minute red card.
Guadalajara took the lead in the 47th minute, thanks to Jose Gonzalez. They had 54% of the possession and took 18 shots to Santos Laguna’s 10 in the game but also showed some of the fragility that would go on to be a recurring issue last season in this game. They couldn’t kill the game, and Santos Laguna leveled the scores in the 70th minute through Eduardo Aguirre.
The red card came 13 minutes later, and the trajectory of the game shifted in the dying stages of the game. The two sides had to settle for a point in the end.
Guadalajara were a bit fortunate to get all three points against Tigres last week, but they won’t care. They won 2-1 on the day thanks to two first-half goals from Gilberto Sepulveda and Ronaldo Cisneros.
Sepulveda’s strike came in the second minute of the game – it was a dream start for Guadalajara. Tigres were immediately on the back foot, and playing catch-up is never easy. Ronaldo Cisneros made it 2-0 to Guadalajara in the 34th minute, and they took the lead into half-time.
Guadalajara were happy to take their foot off the gas for the rest of the game. They had 33% of the possession and allowed 20 shots, but only three found the target. They got a little scare in the 87th minute after Nicolas Ibanez converted from the penalty spot to make it 2-1, but saw the game off in the end.
Guadalajara haven’t been the most exciting side in the league this season, but they’ve found a way to win games. They’ve only scored 12 goals this season but conceded just eight. They’ve lost just one game all season and have not lost a game in their last five matches.
They’re ticking along slowly but steadily. The need to be better in attack, which was an issue last season as well. The home fans are used to exciting football, but this will do for now. Santos Laguna have been very poor defensively this season, so this game is a great opportunity for Guadalajara to improve their goal difference.
They also need to start having a greater share of the ball – possession isn’t everything in soccer, but they can’t concede as much territory and possession as they did in the last game.
Santos Laguna finally ended their winless streak with a 3-2 win over Puebla on the weekend. This was one of the most exciting games of the weekend. Harold Preciada gave Santos Laguna the lead in the 33rd minute, and Juan Brunetta converted his penalty in first-half stoppage time to give the home side a 2-0 lead. Brunetta was on target once again seven minutes into the second half, and it looked like the three points were in the bag.
However, Santos Laguna’s leaky defense almost cost them again. Omar Fernandez Fresca got one back for the visitors in the 77th minute, and Guillermo Martinez Ayala converted his penalty to make it 3-2 in the 90th minute. Santos Laguna had to withstand some nervy minutes towards the end but got the three points ultimately.
They were worthy winners on the day – they took 19 shots to Puebla’s 11, with eight of the shots working the keeper. They only had 42% of the possession, but that’s because they cooled off a little after going 3-0 up within 52 minutes.
Santos Laguna have actually scored more goals than Guadalajara this season – 14 goals in nine games is a decent outlay, but the defense has been calamitous at times. Even though they were impressive against Puebla last week, they very nearly gave away their three points in the end.
Guadalajara have been one of the most clinical sides in the league this season, and they’ll certainly punish Santos Laguna if they are as fragile as they’ve been most of this season. Santos Laguna didn’t have the best of defenses last season either despite finishing in third place on the league table, but it wasn’t this leaky either. They conceded 21 goals in 17 games last season, but have already conceded 19 in nine games this season.
They were able to get away with it because their attack was firing on all cylinders last season, but the attack hasn’t been as deadly this time around to compensate for the defensive issues. Manager Eduardo Fentanes needs to tweak things a little because it looks like every team is having a go at Santos Laguna’s defense at the moment.
He might have to prevent one full-back from flying forward, or add another defensive-minded midfielder into the line-up – whatever it is, he needs to do it now.
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Teams: Guadalajara vs Santos Laguna
Location: Akron Stadium
Time: Saturday, March 4 at 9:05 pm ET onwards
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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