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Toluca will host Club America at the Estadio Nemesio Díez - an arena where they defeated Club America in the playoff semis of the Apertura phase
Club America surprisingly dropped two points in their opening Clausura league stage encounter against Queretaro at home this past weekend
In the Apertura league stage, Toluca finished sixth, eleven points behind Club America, who finished at the top of the table
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After a goalless draw against Queretaro in the opening game of the new Clausura season, Club America will be eager to get the ball rolling and nab three points in the next encounter. In addition to that, they are up against their rivals, Toluca, who halted them in the title race at the semi-final stage in the Apertura league playoffs.
The Estadio Nemesio Díez has not been a happy hunting ground for Club America in recent times. In their last five visits to the intimidating arena, they have lost four games. The last time Diablos Rojos were beaten in their own backyard by Club America was in the 2019 Apertura season.
Considering everything, it seems that this tightly-contested encounter will end in a stalemate, with both sides scoring their first goal of the Clausura league stage.
The two sides faced each other thrice in the Apertura league stage and playoffs. In the league phase, Club America scraped past Toluca after Richard Sanchez scored the only goal of the match in the 93rd minute to clinch all three points.
In the first leg of the semi-final, Toluca registered a narrow 2-1 win over Club America with Oscar Ortega and Leonardo Fernandez finding the back of the net before Emilio Lara pulled one back for the visitors to take something back for the second leg. However, the away goal did not help as Toluca held Club America to a 1-1 draw. Jorge Torres Nilo broke the deadlock for the visitors before Alejandro Zendejas leveled the score, which stayed the same till the full-time whistle.
In the Apertura league stage, Toluca finished sixth. However, a stellar performance in the playoffs saw them make their way all the way to the grand finale. However, they were walloped 8-2 on aggregate in the two-legged final against Pachuca.
The key highlight of Toluca’s journey to the final was their semi-final win against Club America. Predictions and history books backed Club America to make the final and lift their 14th title, but that attempt was thwarted by Toluca.
Out of the 17 games played in the Apertura league stage, Toluca played 9 at home and lost just one. Four games at home ended in draws, while Toluca emerged victorious on four occasions.
Toluca were feisty in the Apertura phase as they picked up 59 yellow cards in 17 games - the highest in the league. The side were the most accurate passers in the league, with almost 385 accurate passes per match.
Toluca scored 41 goals in 21 games, averaging about 2 goals per match, which is good enough for a team with their sights set on the title. However, only 22 out of 41 goals were scored from open play. Toluca had to rely on set pieces and penalties for the rest of their goals.
Looking at the promising chances created statistics, Toluca created the most (45) in the Apertura league stage. Simultaneously, they also missed the most (34), showcasing how incredibly wasteful they were in front of goal. Penalties also helped Toluca nab vital goals. Toluca were awarded the most penalties (9) in the Apertura league stage, out of which eight were successfully converted.
Toluca will have to work on their finishing from open play. They are a threat from set pieces and a menace in the final third. Converting the chances they create will help them, especially in crunch games like the next one against Club America.
Midfielder Leonardo Fernandez notched 16 goal contributions in the Apertura phase for Toluca. The Uruguayan scored six goals and registered ten assists. The 24-year-old now plays a pivotal role in Toluca’s midfield, sitting right behind the striker.
Regarding strikers, front-man Camilo finished the Apertura phase as Toluca’s leading goalscorer with nine goals to his name. Winger Jean Meneses was just a goal shy of Camilo
After finishing at the top of the Apertura league table, Club America will be extremely disappointed to have not won the title. They will come out to avenge the defeat suffered in the semis against Toluca in the playoffs.
Frustration in the camp will be high as Club America dropped two points in their first Clausura league stage encounter against Queretaro - a team that finished at the bottom of the table in the Apertura league stage.
This initial stutter in the step will definitely not take their eyes off a record-extending 14th Liga MX title. In order to get their first three points of the Clausura phase, Club America will have to end their four-game barren run at the Estadio Nemesio Díez.
Club America played nine away games in the Apertura league stage last season and won six of them. They lost the other three. In the entire Apertura phase, Club America scored 51 goals, out of which 44 came from open play.
Club America finished the Apertura league stage at the top of the table. The Aguilas won 12 out of their 17 games, only losing three in the process. The 13-time champions scored the joint-highest number of goals (38) and had the best goal difference of +21 in the league.
Despite such promising stats, they could not lay their hands on the trophy because they slipped up against Toluca in the playoff semis. The history books favor the hosts in this clash as Toluca have beaten Club America 12 times so far, while Club America have only managed eight wins against Toluca. Eight encounters between the two rivals have ended in tightly-contested draws.
To clinch the first three points of the Clausura phase, Club America will have to win on enemy territory - a place where they have played 16 times in Liga MX and won only on four occasions.
Striker Henry Martin was Club America’s top goalscorer in the Apertura phase. The Mexican scored 13 goals and also registered 6 assists. The 30-year-old also experienced World Cup football when he traveled with the Mexican squad to the Qatar World Cup in November.
Martin scored the opener in Mexico’s 2-1 win over Saudi Arabia in their Group C encounter. In Club America’s Clausura opener, Martin started from the bench, coming on in the 69th minute. However, he could not cause any damage as the game ended in a goalless draw.
The striker does have goals in him and will be looking to get off the mark in the Clausura phase by trying his best to find the back of the net against Toluca.
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Teams: Toluca vs Club America
Location: Estadio Nemesio Díez
Time: Saturday, January 14 at 8.05 pm ET
How to Watch: Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes
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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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