The Liga MX Clausura has come down to this.
Sunday night at the Estadio Nemesio Diez, either host Toluca or visiting Santos Laguna will lift the Liga MX trophy and celebrate a title run.
Santos brings a 2-1 advantage into the deciding match after a late goal from Julio Furch clinched victory in Thursday's first leg.
Toluca hasn't lost at home in 2018, though, and has won six of its nine matches at home this year. The Red Devils have confidence the home-field advantage can help them to the title, while Santos is looking to turn the tide.
|Game||Santos Laguna vs. Toluca|
|Date||Sunday, May 20|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Stream (US only)||fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
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Squads & Team News
|Goalkeepers||Talavera, Garcia, Centeno, Pasquel|
|Defenders||Garcia, Perg, Gonzalez, Delgadillo, Calvo, Garcia, Borja, Benitez, Rojas, Salinas|
|Midfielders||Sartiaguin, Rios, Lopez, Medina, Zamora, Sambueza, Quiniones, Barrientos|
|Forwards||Reyna, Uribe, Hauche, Cenelo, Vega, Abundis|
The Liga MX disciplinary committee dismissed a claim of racist abuse against Santiago Garcia, and the Toluca center back will be able to play in Sunday's match.
Potential starting XI: Talavera; Salinas, Gonzalez, Garcia, Borja; Lopez, Rios; Sambueza, Barrientos, Quinones; Uribe
|Position||Santos Laguna players|
|Goalkeepers||Orozco, Acevedo, Garcia|
|Defenders||Izquierdoz, Araujo, Alcoba, Villafana, Arteaga, Abella, Sanchez, Ibanez, Bernal|
|Midfielders||Vazquez, Rivas, Andrade, Martinez, de Buen, Cortes, Rabello, Davila, Lozano, Martinez, Isijara|
|Forwards||Furch, Rodriguez, Djaniny|
Manager Robert Siboldi says Santos is going to go out to win the game like it always does, but with a one-goal advantage the temptation has to be there to shut things down as much as possible. This group in a 4-4-2 has worked well, though, so look for the manager to stick with it, bringing Javier Cortes back into the starting XI in favor of a more attacking player like Jonathan Rodriguez who started the first leg.
Potential starting XI: Orozco; Abella, Izquierdoz, Alcoba, Angulo; Cortes, Martinez, Vazquez, Lozano; Djaniny, Furch
Betting & Match Odds
Toluca is favored to win with dabblebet offering 19/20 odds on a Red Devils victory, 13/5 odds on a Santos Laguna win and a draw going at 12/5.
Thursday's first leg between Santos Laguna and Toluca left everything to play for in the second.
It looked like the teams would head into the second leg tied thanks to Luis Quinones' opener for Toluca and Djaniny's equalizer for Santos. A Julio Furch touch in the 89th minute after a pinpoint cross from Brian Lozano gave Santos the advantage it desperately wanted going into the second. Now a draw would be good enough to win Santos a title.
The good news for Los Guerreros is that teams have come out of La Bombonera with a point during the year. The bad news is that it hasn't happened often. The recently remodeled venue has been very good to Toluca, which hasn't lost at home in 2018 and has come away with six victories in its last seven home matches. The lone exception was in the playoffs when Moreila mounted a furious comeback and scored two stoppage time goals with Toluca still assured passage into the semifinals.
While some of the home showings have been thanks to the atmosphere, Toluca manager Hernan Cristante also has his team play a less restrained style of soccer than he asks for on the road. Toluca scored on the counter-attack against Santos in the first leg but is unlikely to allow Santos as much possession as the 62 per cent it had in the first leg.
Santos may not even want that much of the ball, with a draw enough to advance. Robert Siboldi says his team will go out to chase the game as it normally does, utilizing the speed it has in attack with Djaniny, the league's leading scorer, and Furch with Osvaldo Martinez also posing a set-piece threat. The game may be more dependent on how Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez fares in the middle against Toluca's potent creators Rubens Sambueza and Pablo Barrientos. The South Americans will be on the ball more often with right back Rodrigo Salinas and left back Cristian Borja advancing more often.
It's a recipe for an excellent final that either team could win. Santos has the 'team of destiny' feel, while Toluca has been flying under the radar in Mexico with media outlets ignoring Cristante's men in favor of giving coverage to the bigger teams. One will lift the trophy Sunday and end up being the talk of all the TV shows and on all the front pages.