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This is certainly a far more important match for Santos Laguna than Pachuca. Pachuca will almost certainly enter the playoffs, and they aren’t going to top the league season, so there isn’t a lot to play for.
In contrast, Santos Laguna have a lot to play for. They’re four points off eight-placed Cruz Azul, who have a difficult game against Leon. Win this match and they could be within one point off the playoff spots. Even a draw will feel like a disastrous result at this stage of the season.
Santos Laguna are playing at home and certainly have the offensive weapons to hurt Pachuca, but indiscipline has cost them a lot of points this season, and there’s no reason to believe they’ve sorted things out after providing multiple false dawns this season.
Pachuca are the defending Liga MX champions and need to put in a statement performance to remind everyone in the league that they intend to defend their title. This seems like a great opportunity to do just that; play safe and pick Pachuca.
Santos Laguna have the superior head-to-head record with nine wins and seven losses, but the most common result in this fixture has been a draw. Pachuca have also been the better team in recent meetings; they’ve won three, lost one, and drawn one match in their last five meetings.
Pachuca also won the last match between the two sides 2-0 back in August. It was a thoroughly deserved win, with Pachuca dominating the game from start to finish. Pachuca had to wait till the 54th minute to open the scoring but it was no more than they deserved on the day. Nicolas Ibanez was the scorer and Javier Eduardo Lopez joined the party in the 77th minute.
Pachuca took 24 shots on the day compared to Santos Laguna’s six. Pachcua also had seven shots on target. In hindsight, this was one of the most impressive performances from any team last season considering Santos Laguna were one of the top sides in the Liga MX last season,
Pachuca are still a solid team, but the same can’t be said for Santos Laguna this season. Another hammering could be on the cards for Santos Laguna. Santos Laguna’s Javier Marcelo Correa was sent off in this game in the 86th minute; this is worth highlighting because of Santos Laguna’s lack of discipline this season. It seems like this issue goes back to last season.
Santos Laguna played out a 0-0 draw against Necaxa over the weekend. There wasn’t a lot between the two sides. Santos Laguna had 56% of the possession and took 13 shots to Necaxa’s 12, but neither side had too many great chances. Santos Laguna found the target just twice all game, and Necaxa got four on target.
Santos Laguna needed the three points to keep pace with eight-placed Cruz Azul, so this was a disappointing result ultimately, but there were some positives in the game for Santos Laguna. The defensive record has been abysmal this season, so the clean sheet was welcome. They also completed the match with 11 players, which has to be considered a positive based on how things have played out this season.
Santos Laguna have completed four games with just 10 men this season, which is a big reason why they’re in 10th place on the Liga MX table. This has, undoubtedly, been a significant factor behind their poor defensive record.
With just five games left, they can no longer control their destiny. They need an in-form Cruz Azul to drop points to do them a favor, which isn’t the sort of scenario any top side wants to find themselves in. Their goal difference of -9 is also an issue. The fixture list isn’t ideal either; they are up against league leaders Monterrey next. It’s hard to envision them qualifying for the playoffs.
Pachuca’s 2-0 loss to Cruz Azul was one of the surprise results of the week. Carlos Rotondi put Cruz Azul up in the ninth minute before Rodrigo Huescas made it 2-0 in the 67th minute. Pachuca were unable to break the deadlock, despite taking 22 shots on goal and hitting five on target.
This is a bit of an issue because Pachuca are usually more clinical than this; it was part of the reason why they were so good in the playoffs last season. Finishing is often quite variable, so it shouldn't be a big issue, but the poor start is something they need to avoid in the upcoming fixture.
Pachuca’s last five league results read like this: loss, win, loss, win, and loss. There was also a round of 16 loss to Motagua in the CONCACAF Champions League sandwiched between the league results, so it isn’t a stretch to suggest that they’re currently struggling for form.
The 2-1 loss to Monterrey last month feels like a significant result in hindsight. Monterrey, the current league leaders, were knocked out 6-2 on aggregate in last season’s semi-final by Pachuca. The veneer of invincibility that had cloaked the defending champions prior to the game against Monterrey seems to have slipped off since the 2-1 loss. Teams like Cruz Azul are having a go at Pachuca and getting rewarded for the same.
The game against Santos Laguna is an excellent chance for Pachuca to regain their mojo. They have a run of easy fixtures on paper before the playoffs (Atlas, San Luis, and Queretaro), and a win against Santos Laguna could kickstart the sort of run teams hope for while preparing for the playoffs.
Pachuca also have to make a few tweaks in defense. They’ve conceded 18 goals in 13 games, which is a bit too much for a team challenging for the most significant honors. Center-backs Oscar Cabral and Gustavo Murillo need to do a better job of organizing the backline.
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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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