Necaxa make the journey from Aguascalientes north to Torreon to take on Santos Laguna on Sunday evening. Can Los Rayos get a result to remain firmly inside the top eight or can home side Santos balance a tricky schedule and make the leap from ninth place into playoff position? Is a market pattern beginning to emerge, and what can bettors take away from it?
Champions League focus
Quietly behind the scenes of domestic league play is the CONCACAF Champions League where Santos Laguna made a statement last week.
On a difficult trip to sub-zero temperatures in New York, Santos disposed of the highly ranked New York Red Bulls 2-0 to take control of the quarter final matchup.
The return leg was played Tuesday, March 12 in Torreon meaning Santos will not have to travel, but resources must be managed accordingly this weekend.
Plenty of late money came in on Verzcruz prior to the match on Saturday when head coach Salvador Reyes announced an adjusted left half of his defence and midfield to account for the previous international match. The match ended in a 2-2 draw.
Over performing offence
Only league leaders Monterrey and Leon have scored more goals in the Clausura than Necaxa. Fueled by Brian Fernandez and a league leading nine goals, Los Rayos have found the net with great frequency. But is the play deserving of high praise? In terms of shot based expectancy, Necaxa is averaging 1.27 expected goals per match – just below league average.
Carried out over 10 matches, the numbers suggest Necaxa is outperforming expectation by nearly eight goals. The off ball play of is lackluster too, with their non-shot based play generating just 1.07 expected goals per game which is well below league average of 1.25.
Santos Laguna of equal standing but a lesser price point ranks above average in expected goals for and against but also significantly above average in non-shot based expected goals for and against. Both of their numbers in the respective categories are equal to levels of elite defences Cruz Azul and Club America.
With a high ranking comes a high price point, and Necaxa has certainly been priced at open to a playoff team standard. However, the market is beginning to take note and question their true value and talent level. In the previous five matches since a three-goal outburst against Guadalajara in a game where Necaxa was significantly outplayed, the market has been selling stock in the side. At Pinnacle, Necaxa went from 5.80 to 7.36 vs Tigres, 2.15 to 2.35 vs Tijuana, 4.57 to 5.00 vs Cruz Azul, 5.54 to 5.73 vs Club America, and 2.15 to 2.56 vs Toluca last week.
The market has been very tentative thus far waiting to pounce on the lineup due to Los Gurrerors playing their early week Champions League match against New York.
As the week progresses, it is likely to see the sale of Necaxa continue and the Santos price shorten. The home side has plenty of attacking depth and even with the multiple match week, finding firepower is not something Santos has to look far to do.
With such a strong dependence on Brian Fernandez, opponents that are able to limit the main attack option for Necaxa are able to control the match. Santos has Jose Abella out wide who can deal with the high pressing style of Fernandez well but also a strong centreback in Hugo Rodriguez who can cover in behind.
Bettors should look to oppose overperforming Necaxa for another week.