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Odds taken from Bet365.
Pick: Leon to win. (-182)
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Leon, unsurprisingly, go into this tie as favorites. They’ve had a fantastic season so far, ending the regular season in sixth place, and qualifying for the CONCACAF Champions League semi-final. They have a massive second-leg tie before this match but regardless of the outcome in that game, they’ll be expected to win this tie comfortably.
San Luis have won just five games all season, and most of the wins have come against lesser opposition. It’s hard to make a strong case for them since they’ve struggled to score goals all season, and Leon are one of the best defensive sides in the league.
The rewards for betting on Leon aren’t great, but this looks like a game well-suited to their strengths, so we can only see one outcome from this tie.
Another reason you shouldn’t bet against Leon in this tie is the head-to-head record shared between them and San Luis. San Luis have won just three of the 16 matches between the two sides. Leon have won nine and four matches ended in a draw.
The last league meeting between the two sides was in March, and Leon won the match 2-0. The match wasn’t as comfortable as the scoreline reads, but Leon deserved all three points on the day. Leon’s two goals came in added time, with Brian Rubio getting the first one minute into second-half stoppage time and Hector Yael Uribe Guevara making it 2-0 three minutes later.
Leon were rewarded for trying to win the game right till the end. They had 60% of the possession and took 20 shots on goal, with 10 on target compared to San Luis’ 10 shots on goal and three on target. San Luis will do well to keep Leon quiet for that long in their upcoming match.
It’s hard to know just how much this match will matter as things stand, but things should be clearer when Leon face Tigres in a few days in the CONCACAF Champions League semifinal second leg. Tigres clearly prioritized the knockout game since they’d already qualified for the playoffs and beat Leon 2-1 in the first leg.
Of course, Leon will receive encouragement from the win, and the performance merited all three points. Alfonso Alvarado opened the account for Leon in the 17th minute before Brian Rubio made it 2-0 just before the half-time whistle. Hector Yael Uribe Guevara capped things in the 67th minute to make it 3-0 and confirm the three points for Leon.
Leon’s recent record against Tigres wasn’t the best, so this will give them some belief before the second leg. No matter the outcome in the second leg, the playoff match will be less challenging, so Leon just need to go about it professionally and qualify for the next round.
Leon have conceded just 13 league goals this season. This is the best defensive record of any team in the league, and the backline deserves a lot of credit for managing this. It’s also vital to have a good defense in knockout ties that are decided on the smallest margins.
Leon fans were a bit concerned following the 5-0 win against Violette in the CONCACAF Champions League, as Leon went on a three-game winless streak, but the 3-0 win against Tigres last week has brought the feel-good factor back into the club.
Leon’s attack still leaves something to be desired. They’ve scored just 23 goals in the league this season, which isn’t a lot for a side that’s in the league's upper echelons, but it’s worth the compromise because of the defensive solidity it has bought the team.
San Luis drew their final game of the regular season 0-0 against Atlas to confirm playoffs. This was a great result because no one expected them to come out with anything against an in-form Atlas side. However, the way the game went. San Luis were unfortunate to come out of the game with just a point.
Atlas Julio Firch was sent off in the 38th minute, and San Luis dominated the game for the rest of the match. They took 24 shots on goal and had 62% of the possession but couldn’t break the deadlock. Atlas did well to force San Luis to shoot wide, as just three of the shots found the target.
In the end, it felt like a mixed result. San Luis’ aim before the season was to qualify for the playoffs, and they’ve achieved that, but this match also highlighted why no one expects them to stop teams like Leon from going further in the competition. Their lack of clinical edge in the final third was apparent as day, and their opponents in the playoffs will take full advantage of this.
The lack of killer instinct in the final third had been an issue for them all season. They’ve scored just 16 goals this season, which is the joint-lowest in the league with Queratro and Necaxa.
They’ve conceded 21 goals this season, which isn’t too bad, but it’s not strong enough to stop the strongest teams in the league. Their last match against Leon was a case in point, as they held on till the 90th minute but couldn’t stop Leon from creating chances throughout the game.
Leon are one of the strongest defensive sides in the league, so they should have no trouble facing the San Luis attack. San Luis will need a lot of good fortune to open their account against such a resolute side. Leon aren’t the most free-flowing team in attack, but they have players that can cause San Luis problems. Brian Rubio and Alfonso Alvarado showed their quality against Tigres last week, and two of them are more than capable of getting a few against San Luis in the coming week.
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Teams: Leon vs San Luis
Location: Estadio Leon
Time: Sunday, May 7 at 7:06 pm EST 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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