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Toluca will host Leon at the Estadio Nemesio Diez on Sunday. Toluca are the favorites heading into this match.
Toluca beat Guadalajara 2-1 in their last Liga MX match.
Leon lost 4-1 to Pumas UNAM in their last Liga MX match.
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Toluca have got the edge heading into this tie for a variety of reasons. They’ll be playing at home, which is an obvious advantage. They’ve also got a better head-to-head record with 10 wins, eight draws, and eight losses to Toluca.
The last meeting between the two sides also ended in Toluca’s favor. Toluca were also Apertura runners-up – this is a team that’s coming into this season in great form. Leon, on the other hand, are just coming off the back of a 4-1 loss. Turning their fortunes around against a side like Toluca is no easy task. This match has a Toluca win written all over it.
The last league meeting between these two sides occurred in July 2022. Toluca won 1-0 on the day but had their fair share of good fortune. Leon’s Fidel Ambriz got a red card in the 52nd minute, which gave Toluca a massive advantage for the remaining forty-plus minutes.
Leon were quite good prior to the red card and looked like the team more likely to open the scoring. Of course, it was a completely different game after the red card, but Leon stayed in the game and were a bit unlucky to concede a goal in the 90th minute.
Daniel Alvarez Lopez scored the only goal of the game to give Toluca all three points. Toluca, of course, had the more impressive stats because of the red card. They took 16 shots to Leon’s 13 and had 61% of the possession. It goes without saying that these stats did not paint an accurate picture of how the game had been played.
Leon showed a lot of spirit on the day, and they’ll need to show it this week. Toluca, on the other hand, need to treat this like a different game – they can’t rest on their laurels.
After playing a hard-fought draw in their first game of the season to Club America, Toluca put in another impressive display to win 2-1 against Guadalajara. They can now head into the game on the weekend a bit relaxed.
Toluca were the better over the 90 minutes against Guadalajara, but that didn’t stop Guadalajara from taking the lead. Valber Huerta put the ball into his own net in the 31st minute to give Guadalajara the lead, but Toluca fought back with second-half goals from Carlos Gonzalez and Marcel Ruiz to take all three points.
It felt like a matter of time before Toluca got the winner after Gonzalez’s 60th-minute winner. Toluca certainly had to bide their time for the winner, but it came in the 84th minute, thanks to Marcel Ruiz.
Both sides took 13 shots each, but Toluca had 55% of the possession. Considering this is a tough away fixture, Toluca will build a lot of confidence from this win for the rest of the season.
Many fans and experts in the media believed that Toluca were fortunate to make it to the Liga MX Apertura finals, but they’ve shown in recent games that they belong at the top. Club America are still considered by many Liga MX enthusiasts as the team to beat – not only did Toluca knock them out of the playoffs last year, but they also held their own against them this season.
They followed it up with an impressive away performance against Guadalajara, who’ve got one of the most passionate fans in all of Mexico. It wasn’t just the win, but the manner of their win – a comeback after scoring an unfortunate own goal.
Toluca’s mentality has been solid for the last few months, and this has set them apart from some of the other teams that finished in the upper mid-table spots in the Apertura. Toluca play with no fear and make the opponent work for the entire 90 minutes.
Leon had a night to forget last week after a 4-1 loss to Pumas UNAM. Pumas UNAM were extremely clinical on the day, and the scoreline might’ve looked different on another day, but Leon can’t look for excuses and have to pick themselves up for the next game.
Pumas UNAM only took nine shots on the day with 48% of the possession, but that was all they needed. Gustavo Prete gave them the lead in the 9th minute before Leon’s Lucas Di Yorio equalized in the 27th minute.
Leon looked like they were happy to take this score into half-time and were punished by Diogo de Olivera, who put Pumas UNAM up 2-1 just before the half-time whistle. Leon were still struggling to string their passes in the final third in the second half.
Pumas UNAM, on the other hand, were lethal every time they got into the attacking third and Juan Dinenno exemplified that with a goal in the 59th minute to give Pumas UNAM a 3-1 lead. Dinenno got his second in the 89th minute to end the match 4-1 in UNAM’s favor.
Leon looked a bit weak at the back at the start of this Clausura campaign. They won their first match of the season against Necaxa 2-1. They had 60% of the possession and took 15 shots compared to Necaxa’s five, but weren’t able to fully kill the game off.
Against Pumas UNAM, they had 52% possession and took 12 shots compared to Necaxa’s nine, but scored just once and conceded four. Even though they haven’t conceded a lot of chances in these matches, teams look very likely to score. The defense and goalkeeper certainly need to do better in these instances, as it can be very demoralizing for the rest of the team to give away such easy goals.
Toluca are the sort of side that won’t need a second invitation either. If Leon give them a few easy opportunities to score, they’ll certainly take it given the form they’re currently in. On the plus side, there are still a lot of games for Leon to get the balance right between defense and attack, but they have to get that balance right soon.
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Teams: Toluca vs Leon
Location: Estadio Nemesio Diez
Time: Sunday, January 29 at 1 pm ET onwards
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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