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Sneaking in at the very last playoff position are Queretaro, who thanks to goal differential, made the cutoff for the 12th and final place in the Liga MX postseason.
Queretaro have had their brief moments of brilliance throughout 2021, but can they last in the playoffs?
Realistically speaking, they should feel lucky to even be in the current conversation. 5th placed Santos is far superior to Queretaro and should have no real issues in this weekend’s wildcard match.
Santos for the win (-139)
|Santos Laguna vs Queretaro Information|
|Teams||Santos Laguna vs Queretaro|
|Location||Estadio Corona (Torreon, Mexico)|
|Time||Saturday, May 8th at 10:00 pm ET|
|How to Watch||FS1|
At one point in the recent past, there was a legitimate case that Santos were a top-two/three team in Liga MX. After claiming just two losses in their first 11 matches, it looked as if Los Guerreros were destined to become dark horses for the Clausura season title.
Then, an injury for a significant player temporarily halted those hopes.
In March, midfielder Fernando Gorriaran was sidelined for Santos, and during his recovery, his squad immediately tripped over themselves with occasional defeats and draws that gradually brought them down the league table. With a role in the heart of the XI, there was a sudden and notable absence during his injury.
And just when anxiety started to build about what this would mean for the playoff run, Gorriaran returned and earned his first start since mid-March last week. Despite the fact that Santos ultimately finished with a 0-0 draw against Puebla to end the regular season, they looked to be back to their old selves as they outshot and outpossesed their opposition.
Santos are back, but as for Queretaro…
As mentioned earlier, Queretaro should feel lucky to just be here. Were it not for Pumas losing to Club America during the final weekend of the regular season, and numerous other factors working in their favor, Queretaro would not be in a playoff position.
Nonetheless, they’ve sneaked in — and with the worst defense of all of the postseason representatives. Of the 12 clubs left who will be making a run towards the 2021 Clausura title, none have allowed more goals than the 25 that Queretaro allowed in just 17 games.
What’s even more problematic is their away form, and as Queretaro travel to Torreon, they’ll likely be aware of the fact that they haven’t collected a win outside of home in over a year.
The importance of Gorriaran for Santos is something that can’t be overstated. With his distribution, coverage and defensive work in the middle of the pitch, the Uruguayan is easily the player who would most likely define whether Santos can get a win during any given weekend.
He’s a “Liga MX Best XI” caliber type of player, and with him now looking fully healthy, there’s reason to believe that Santos will breeze past a side like Queretaro that have far too many weaknesses.
And if that all fails, Santos have a talented backup plan in net.
Although Acevedo is only 25 and fairly young for a goalkeeper, no player in his position has been able to outshine him this Liga MX season.
The Santos player is an absolute shot-stopper. According to statistics from Wyscout, no Liga MX goalkeeper has had a higher “Prevented goals” rating since last summer than Acevedo. He’s led the league in saves since that time period and has quickly garnered attention for his high-flying acrobatics that have made him into a living highlight reel.
Even if Queretaro find a way to shut down Santos’ attack, odds are, they won’t be able to get much past, Acevedo.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast. Email: [email protected]More info on Cesar Hernandez
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