One team from the north will move on while the other has its season ended when Tigres travel to face Santos Laguna in the second leg of a Liga MX quarterfinal on Sunday.
Tigres won the first leg with a typical Tigres performance. Both goals came from set pieces with center back Hugo Ayala nodding in the opener and Andre-Pierre Gignac adding a second from the spot.
It's a decent cushion, and with Thursday's defeat marking the fourth in a row for Santos, the Torreon club is reeling.
Still, with Liga MX leading scorer Djaniny plus Julio Furch and Jonathan Rodriguez up top, there will be a push from the home team to move into the semifinals.
|Game||Santos Laguna vs. Tigres|
|Date||Sunday, May 6|
|Time||7 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
|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|
Robert Siboldi pulled off Jorge Villafana in the first half of Thursday's match. Osvaldo Martinez is set to return from suspension. Nestor Araujo is back in training after his injury suffered with Mexico but is still a doubt for Sunday's match.
Potential starting XI: Orozco; Abella, Izquierdoz, Alcoba, Villafana; Lozano, Martinez, Vazquez; Furch, Djaniny, Rodriguez
|Goalkeepers||Guzman, Fernandez, Ortega|
|Defenders||Kolodziejczak, Ayala, Juninho, Meza, Torres Nilo, Acosta, Jimenez, Estrada, Rodriguez|
|Midfielders||Carioca, Duenas, J. Torres, Vasquez, R. Torres, Zelarayan, Aquino, Alvarez, Sosa, Damm|
|Forwards||Valencia, Gignac, Vargas|
Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez is still unavailable with a muscle strain in his right leg, though he's recovering well and could return for a semifinal series.
Potential starting XI: Guzman; Ayala, Juninho, Torres Nilo; Damm, Duenas, Carioca, Aquino; Valencia, Gignac, Vargas
Betting & Match Odds
Santos Laguna are the slight favorite, with dabblebet pricing a home win at 7/5 while a Tigres win is going at 9/5. A draw is available at 9/4.
Tigres take a two-goal advantage into Sunday's second leg at Santos Laguna and are feeling confident after a solid win in the first leg.
Away from the comforts of home, where Tigres haven't lost a league match in more than a year, things will get trickier. Estadio Corona will be full of Santos fans who have plenty of animosity toward nouveu riche Tigres for commanding the attention in the north of Mexico and also for recently winning their sixth all-time title - moving past Santos' five.
Santos have to get in gear to have any hope of a sixth title this tournament. Robert Siboldi's squad has lost its last four matches, qualifying as the No. 4 seed in the playoffs thanks to its performances through the first dozen matches of the season but entering the postseason looking disjointed.
In the last two matches, the attack has been held scoreless. Djaniiny won the Liga MX top scorer race with 14 goals but has been shut down in recent weeks. Not that Julio Furch or Jonathan Rodriguez have been much help. We may see all three forwards move into the starting lineup with Siboldi needing two goals out of his team. Osvaldo Martinez's return to the midfield should help as well.
On the other hand, Tigres certainly can hit back against a team leaving too many spaces in front of the back line as the attackers search for a goal. Andre-Pierre Gignac sits a goal away from sole possession of 10th place all-time on Mexico's postseason scoring charts after converting a penalty in the first leg.
Giving Gignac or teammates Enner Valencia and Eduardo Vargas room to operate could be deadly. Tigres manager Tuca Ferretti also has been using the speedy one-two punch of Jurgen Damm and Javier Aquino on the wings once again, trying to get teams wide before switching the point of attack and finding a way through.
It will be a difficult comeback for Los Guerreros, but it's one they'll be able to make if they can get the same production out of their forwards they got during the regular season and can somehow contain Tigres' feisty attack.