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games like this are the hardest to call. Santos Laguna and Tigres UANL are two of the best sides in the league. Both of them had disappointing exits in the Apertura season, and the last game played between the two sides ended in a draw. This one also appears like it has all the makings of a draw.
There’s very little to choose between the two sides. Santos Laguna play at home, and have a better head-to-head record. They’ve won 12 of the 33 games played between the sides, with Tigres UANL winning nine. Twelve of these games have also ended in draws, and in the absence of any kind of form indicators this early in the season, this record is why we reckon a draw could be on the cards.
Whatever advantage one side has over the other seems to get offset by something else. A draw seems like the safest bet, but both teams should be expected to score a goal because of all the quality they have on show.
As stated earlier, the last game between the two sides ended in a draw. Even though the score read 1-1, this game had its fair share of big moments. Tigres UANL were playing at home but went down 1-0 quite early in the game. Fernando Goriarin scored a goal in the 8th minute, but Santos Laguna didn’t really take advantage of this lead.
Tigres’ Florian Thauvin even got sent off in the 35th minute, but Santos Laguna kept playing within themselves. They only had 49% of the possession and took just one shot more than Tigres. They were punished for not using the one-man advantage by Carlos Salcedo, who hit the back of the net in the 89th minute. Tigres were rewarded for never giving up, and they’ll most likely have a marginal edge in the upcoming tie because of how the last one ended.
Santos Laguna were title contenders in the Apertura season. They were joint-highest goalscorers with Club America and finished just five points behind them in third place during the league stage – so to lose in the quarterfinals in the manner that they did was very anticlimactic and, no doubt, disappointing for them.
It’s one thing to have a man sent off in one leg, but to have another sent off in the second-leg of a quarterfinal is unacceptable. This sort of indiscipline can be tolerated in the league stages with lots of games left to play. It’s an entirely different ball game in the playoffs. Playoffs are all about the little details, and Santos Laguna didn’t heed to them.
The sending-off in the first-leg against Toluca also played a big part in Toluca scoring the winner in stoppage time. The tide of the game turned completely after Juan Brunetta’s 84th minute red card. The late goal in the second leg also came after the team had gone down a man in the 82nd minute. It should serve as a reminder to Santos Laguna that a game isn’t over till the final whistle has been blown.
As good as Santos Laguna’s attack was last season, they were quite reliant on Harold Preciado to do most of the work up front. He scored six goals and registered one assist. Eduardo Aguirre, with three goals and two assists, had the most goal contributions after him, which highlights one of their issues going into the new season.
They also conceded four goals in the first-leg game against Toluca. They should probably focus a bit more on their defense this time around. They conceded 21 goals in the league stage, which is a bit too much for a team with title aspirations.
Santos Laguna haven’t been the busiest of sides in the winter transfer window. They’ve added Raul Lopez at right-back, who should provide some defensive cover. They’ve let Fernando Gorriaran go. Carlos Orrantia, David Andrade, and Jonathan Diaz have been let go for undisclosed fees. Brian Lozano has been sent out on loan.
Tigres are always in the running for a Liga MX title, but it has eluded them since 2019. They don’t want to go too long without a title. This is a side with a lot of top players and have been within reach of something special but fumbled in some big moments.
New manager Diego Cocca will know that second-best will not be enough. He’s been given the job because managers before him have slipped up when it matters most. He has to bring in a winning mentality to the squad because the quality is certainly there.
In Andre-Pierre Gignac, Tigres have got one of the best forwards in the league. He scored 11 goals last term and also contributed to 2 assists. The Frenchman has got an outstanding record at Tigres with 154 goals in 274 appearances and raised the profile of Liga MX.
It should be noted that this is a player with 36 caps for the French national team. He’s also got former international teammate Florian Thauvin alongside him, who contributed to three goals and two assists in the Apertura season. Juan Vigon completes the triumvirate with five goals and one assist.
This is a frightening front line. Losing to Pachuca in the quarterfinals, who went on to win the Liga MX Apertura season, will be no comfort to them. In fact, they’ll look back at that with regret because of how tight things were in that game – losing on away goals always feels bitter. They should do fine in the league season and in this game.
Tigres UANL haven’t been busy in this window. In fact, Fernando Gorriaran from Santos Laguna has been the only incoming player for the side. Luis Rodriguez has left on a free. New manager Diego Cocca will have to work with most of the players from the Apertura season.
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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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