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Mazatlan FC pipped Pachuca for the final play-in spot of the Apertura 2023 season before Santos Laguna eventually eliminated them
Atletico de San Luis reached the Liga MX playoff semifinals for the first time in their history but were thumped and eliminated by eventual champions Club America
When these two clubs met in the Apertura season, San Luis edged past Mazatlan in a five-goal thriller at Estadio Alfonso Lastras Ramirez
Pick: Atletico de San Luis to win.
Mazatlan pulled off quite a few shocking results in the second half of the Apertura 2023 season to secure the final play-in spot. They beat teams like Chivas Guadalajara, Santos Laguna, Atlas, and Toluca. Four wins in the last five league games helped them snatch the vital spot away from other major contenders like Pachuca, Toluca, and Tijuana.
While Mazatlan’s dream run ended abruptly before the playoffs, San Luis enjoyed a fantastic spell as they reached their maiden Liga MX playoff semifinal. The highlight of their season came in the quarterfinal encounter against title-contenders CF Monterrey. San Luis registered a win at home and then held the visitors to a draw in the second to advance to the semis.
In the semifinal, they defeated a second-string Club America side in their own backyard, but that came after a 5-0 thumping at home in the first leg. However, that promising run has showcased the club’s true potential. Starting the season with a win against Mazatlan will help San Luis set the perfect tone for the mercurial Clausura 2024 season.
These two clubs have only met on seven occasions in Liga MX. San Luis are dominating the fixture with four wins, while Mazatlan has only emerged victorious on one occasion. The other two encounters have ended in draws.
In the five-goal thriller last season, Javier Guemez, Leo, and Vitinho were on the scoresheet to give San Luis a 3-0 lead. Ake Arnaud Loba scored a late brace but could not get the crucial equalizer as Mazatlan suffered a narrow defeat.
The last time Mazatlan hosted San Luis was in the Apertura 2022 season. Gonzalo Sosa converted a penalty in the 35th minute to give the hosts a lead that only lasted three minutes as Abel Hernandez restored parity in the 38th minute.
Mazatlan were on the verge of missing out on the newly introduced play-in format of the Liga MX, but a spurt of consistency helped the side finish tenth. The club will have the same target this year and will not want to finish near the bottom of the table.
In the previous Clausura season, Mazatlan won just two out of 17 league games and were rooted to the bottom with just seven points in their kitty. The collapse came right after they had finished 14th in the Apertura 2022 campaign.
Coach Ismael Rescalvo will not want a repeat of that in the Clausura 2024 season and will aim to maintain the upward trajectory of the club.
Every team wants to start a new season with a fully fit squad, but Mazatlan may be without a few players when they host San Luis.
Lucas Merolla suffered a knee injury back in September and is doubtful ahead of the upcoming match. Nicolas Benedetti is recovering from an ACL injury that ended his Apertura 2023 season abruptly, while Roberto Meraz has also been on the sidelines since July.
After picking up nine points in eight home games in the Apertura 2022 season, Mazatlan suffered a major collapse and collected just three points from nine home games in the Clausura 2023 season.
In the Apertura 2023 season, there was a slight resurgence after the club finished the league phase with a total points tally of 22, out of which 14 came from home fixtures.
Despite losing in the semifinals of the Apertura 2023 playoffs, San Luis will look at the positives and will be yearning to retain their positive momentum. They were thumped 5-0 by Club America but did snatch a 2-0 win in the second leg, ending the champion’s unbeaten streak.
The club may not be a title contender this season, but it certainly has the potential to challenge the teams that are title contenders. San Luis already proved that last season when they ended CF Monterrey’s title charge.
San Luis have visited Mazatlan on three occasions in the past. Two of those games have ended in draws, and the visitors won the remaining one. However, that solitary victory came way back in the Clausura 2021 season.
In the last two visits, the visitors conceded first and then scored themselves to take a point away from Mazatlan. That is a run San Luis will be eager to end.
Just like last season, San Luis will rely on their Brazilian attacking duo of Vitinho and Leo for goals. The former scored seven, and the latter scored five last season. The performance of San Luis in the final third was subpar.
There are no attacking transfers lined up for San Luis, and the club will expect both strikers to improve their performance in front of goal, especially with quality supporting players like Juan Sanabria and Jurgen Damm pacing down both flanks.
Teams: Mazatlan FC vs. Atletico de San Luis
Location: Estadio El Canto
Time: Friday, January 12 at 10:00 pm ET
How to Watch: Univision, Telemundo, Fox Sports, ESPN, Vix and Sling TV
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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