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Leon will host Santos Laguna at the Estadio Leon on Sunday. Santos Laguna are three points behind Leon in the Liga MX table, but Leon have a game in hand.
Leon beat Atlas 1-0 in their last Liga MX outing. They’ve got the best defensive record in the league this season.
Santos Laguna’s 3-2 win over Club Tijuana was the game of the weekend. Santos Laguna have participated in quite a few high-scoring matches recently.
Odds taken from bet365.
Pick: Leon to win. (-110)
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This match is an excellent opportunity for Leon and Santos Laguna to distance themselves from the chasing pack. Most teams below them don’t look like a threat to their playoff spot, bar Cruz Azul. Cruz Azul also have a game in hand, so a win here could give one of these sides some breathing room in the final stretch of the regular season.
Leon head into this tie as the favorites – they’re ahead of Santos Laguna in the league and playing at home. They’ve also been far more steady than Santos Laguna this season – Santos Laguna are a bit too unpredictable at the moment, so Leon are a safe bet.
Club Leon have another psychological edge heading into this tie – they’ve won 10, drawn seven, and lost eight of their 25 games against Santos Laguna. Santos Laguna, however, won the last match between the two sides 2-1 back in August 2023 – they were also fully deserving of the victory on the day.
Leon took the lead in the 38th minute thanks to Fidel Gonzalez, but took their foot off the gas after going 1-0 up and were punished for it. Leon only took five shots on the day compared to Santos Laguna’s 18.
Santos Laguna leveled the scores two minutes after Gonzalez put Leon 1-0 up courtesy of Omar Chagoya. Felix Torres’ 68th-minute strike made it 2-1 to Santos Laguna. Leon were a bit fortunate that the match ended 2-1; the scoreline flattered them.
Victor Davilla’s 18th-minute strike was enough to give Leon all three points against Atlas over the weekend. The 1-0 scoreline didn’t justify how end-to-end this game was. There were a combined 40 shots on goal in this game, with Atlas taking 21 and Leon taking 19. Atlas also had 56% of the possession in the game.
The game, as stated earlier, was a bit too end-to-end to suggest Atlas were the better team, but they were unlucky not to even earn a draw by the end of the 90 minutes. Leon, of course, were the away side – they didn’t need to take the game to Atlas, but this wasn’t a good defensive performance by any means. Atlas were profligate in front of the goal, which is why Leon went home with three points. Santos Laguna have a far more potent attack than Atlas – Leon will have to perform much better if they want to get all three points in the coming weekend.
Leon aren’t playing with much conviction, but they’re getting results and clean sheets. In fact, they’ve earned clean sheets in their last three matches in all competitions. Leon’s back-three system allows them to get an extra body in front of goal to make last-ditch tackles, blocks, and interceptions.
It has been critical to their strong defensive record this season – they’ve conceded just seven goals all season in the league. There are certainly some question marks around this approach and its sustainability, but it shouldn’t matter a lot now. It looks like they’ve earned enough points to make it to the playoffs, and this approach tends to suit knockout games.
Once Leon go a goal up, it’s very hard to get past their backline and goalkeeper. Santos Laguna are a side with some good forward players; it’ll be fascinating to see how Leon plan to stop them.
Santos Laguna don’t like to make things easy. To no one’s surprise, they were part of a high-scoring affair once again. The good part was that they were on the winning side over the weekend against Club Tijuana.
The match ended 3-2, but it could’ve been 4-3 or 5-4. Javier Marcelo gave Santos Laguna the lead in the 45th minute. Just when it looked like they would take this lead into half-time, Club Tijuana equalized thanks to Alexis Canelo seconds before the half-time whistle was blown.
Laguna needed just seven minutes of the second half to go up; Marcelo was on target once again. However, Lucas Rodriguez made it to 2-2 just eight minutes later. Doria’s 74th-minute strike was the winner, but Club Tijuana had a few opportunities toward the end of the game to make it 3-3.
Tijuana had 46% possession but took 15 shots to Santos Laguna’s 11 on the day. A draw would’ve been a fair result, but Club Tijuana gave themselves too much to do – there are only so many comebacks a team can make within the same game.
Santos Laguna’s attack has been quite potent this season. They’ve scored 17 goals, but they’ve also conceded 23 so far this season. Leon, on the other hand, are the polar opposite. They’ve scored just 12 goals all season but conceded just seven.
However, Leon are far from a defensive behemoth, as mentioned earlier in the article, and Santos Laguna are far from a free-flowing attack. Both sides have clear weaknesses, but Leon look like a bad matchup for Santos Laguna.
Leon are extremely clinical when they get chances and can defend for long periods. Santos Laguna give teams too many chances, and Leon could punish them for the same in this match. Leon are also playing at home, so it’s best if Santos Laguna work their way into the match instead of going gung-ho like they usually do. If they don't, they could lose out on a playoff spot.
Santos Laguna will, of course, attest that they won against Leon with that gung-ho approach last season, but they were a much better side last season, and Leon weren’t as good. It’d be foolish to play the game into Leon’s hands.
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Teams: Leon vs Santos Laguna
Location: Estadio Leon
Time: Sunday, March 19 at 9:05 pm ET onwards
How to watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo, and Fox Deportes
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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