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Six-time Liga MX champions Santos Laguna are aiming to clinch their first points of the Clausura season against seven-time Liga MX champions Pumas UNAM. The performance and outcomes of both teams in the Apertura league stage were quite contrasting.
Santos Laguna finished third from the top, while Pumas UNAM were third from the bottom. Despite that, the scales are evenly balanced when it comes to the head-to-head record between the two sides.
In 27 encounters between the two, each side has won ten games, and seven have ended in a stalemate. However, the last three encounters between the two have been won comfortably by Santos Laguna.
The hosts will be without suspended Eduardo Aguirre and could also be without Ronaldo Prieto. But even then, Santos Laguna have the potential to edge this tie.
In the Apertura league stage, Santos Laguna visited the Estadio Olimpico de Universitario and returned with three vital points. The hosts suffered a grueling 5-1 loss in their own backyard. Harold Preciado bagged a brace before Fernando Gorriaran scored the third from the spot. Juan Brunetta and Leonardo Suarez struck in the second half to put Santos Laguna 5-0 up before Juan Dinenno pulled one back for Pumas UNAM.
In the previous Clausura encounter last season, the two sides played a five-goal thriller which was a comparatively closer affair in Santos Laguna’s backyard. Arturo Ortiz put the visitors in front before a Leonel Lopez own goal restored parity in the very next minute. Gorriaran struck in this game as well and from the spot too. His goal was canceled out by Juan Dinenno. Yet again, Santos Laguna struck right after a Pumas UNAM goal as Preciado scored the final goal of the game to seal three points for Santos Laguna.
After finishing third in the Apertura league stage, the 3-0 loss against Tigres UANL in the opening game of the Clausura league stage has come as a shock to Santos Laguna and their fans. The club will be aiming to bounce back against Pumas UNAM.
During the entire Apertura league stage, Santos Laguna played nine games at home, winning eight and drawing one game. After the loss in the previous encounter, Santos Laguna lost their nine-game unbeaten home streak this season.
In the entirety of the Apertura phase, Santos Laguna scored 42 goals. 29 of those came from open play, while six were scored from set pieces, and seven came from penalties. The bar is set high and the playoff spots are in sight for Santos Laguna.
The defensive duo of Felix Torres and Hugo Rodriguez failed to bring their A-game to the pitch against Tigres UANL in the last game. Torres was involved in three ground duels and only managed to win one of them.
On the other hand, Rodriguez could not deal with aerial threats. The defender was involved in six aerial duels out of which he only won two. He was also a part of two ground duels and lost both of them.
Left-back Omar Campos was ineffective going forward as he only managed one successful dribble in five attempts throughout the game. On the other flank, Raul Lopez attempted two crosses after motoring forward, but both were inaccurate.
Fernando Gorriaran had ten goal contributions for Santos Laguna in the Apertura phase. The Uruguayan was an influential figure in the Santos Laguna midfield before he moved to Tigres UANL before the start of the Clausura phase.
On his debut for the new club, Gorriaran nabbed an assist against his former club. Now, Juan Brunetta sees the creativity onus shift to him while Harold Preciado continues to be the main goal-getter for Santos Laguna.
In the previous game, Brunetta created four chances in the game - the most in the game, while Preciado completed the most dribbles (3) in the game. In the Apertura phase, Preciado scored seven goals and nabbed two assists, while Brunetta scored four goals and notched four assists.
FC Juarez finished in the playoff spots in the Apertura league stage but they were halted by a resilient Pumas UNAM side who would be aiming for the playoff spots themselves this time around.
Pumas UNAM finished five points behind the last playoff spot in the Apertura league stage. Going for the title is a long shot but that does not change the fact that Pumas UNAM are seven-time champions.
The last time Pumas UNAM lifted the trophy was at the end of the 2011 Clausura phase. This time, they will be content with a playoff spot and see how far they can progress in the knockout round of the tournament.
Before the beginning of the Clausura phase, Pumas UNAM beat Club America in a pre-season friendly on Christmas Eve 2022. Gustavo Del Prete and Gael Rodriguez were on target for the Pumas in that game.
In the Clausura opener, Pumas UNAM trailed against the ten men of FC Juarez till the 77th minute. Eduardo Salvio hit the equalizer before Juan Dinenno turned the game on its head three minutes from time.
The preseason was not exactly perfect for Pumas UNAM as they only won one game out of four. However, they also lost just one out of four, drawing the other two against Toluca and Necaxa. Capitalizing on the momentum could give them a result that shocks their opponents.
Dani Alves left Barcelona and joined Pumas UNAM before the Apertura phase earlier this season. The Brazilian provided the joint-highest assists (4) for the club during the Apertura league stage.
Up front, Juan Dinenno was the club’s leading goalscorer during the Apertura league stage. The Argentinian scored six goals, one more than Eduardo Salvio. Salvio is a menace down the right flank but Alves and Dinenno could link up well to snatch more goals for Pumas UNAM.
The concentration of attacks could well be down that right flank where Salvio and Alves gallop forward and try to find Dinenno in the box with an inch-perfect delivery. Salvio registered a solitary assist during the Apertura phase but could change that stat in this phase.
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Varun is a web journalist who has been writing on sports for 13 years. He took a shine for the MLS during the 2021 season and has been following it and writing about it since, alongside his work involving the English Premier League, La Liga, and the Serie A. He is deeply interested in soccer analytics and strategy and has aspirations to move into coaching at some point. Email: [email protected]More info on Varun Shetty
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