With three matches to play in the Liga MX season, Santos Laguna is making their last effort at the final eight spots in the Liguilla. Can Los Guerreros turn the table in league play and get a crucial victory or will Queretaro spoil the playoff hopes? Where can value be found for bettors in the market?
Last chance for Santos
What a disappointing Clausura it has been for Santos Laguna. After finishing fourth in the Apertura, Santos came flying out of the gate with points in five of their first six matches. Since then, they have failed to win in their previous six and sit two wins out of qualification with three matches to play.
Odds for Santos to make the playoffs would be well higher than 50/1*, but three victories to end the season is not unimaginable. Home matches against Queretaro and Pumas will have Santos priced as favourites.
An away victory at America will be difficult, but Santos has plenty of talent to attack the strong America defence. Santos also has a history of success on the road pulling off an upset against an equally strong Cruz Azul side earlier this season. This Saturday night match vs Queretaro will be an all or nothing effort.
In addition to the high stakes of the match, new leadership of Santos Laguna should raise the effort level one step further. Guillermo Almada was introduced as head coach Tuesday morning and will have his first full week to prepare as manager of Santos.
The Uruguayan head coach replaces Ruben Duarte who was in charge for two weeks since the firing of Salvador Reyes. Alamada comes in off a very successful four years in the lead of Barcelona SC in Ecuador.
Home field advantage
The performance of Queretaro outside of Corregidora Stadium has been abysmal. Los Gallos Blancos have lost all six of their matches away from home and have a goal differential of -14. The only match which they did not lose by multiple goals was against Puebla who has one of the weakest home field advantages in Mexico (13th).
Their inability to create any consistent attack (0.88 expected goals per match) is their biggest issue, but they also have trouble conceding goals early in matches. A whopping 45% of goals against away from home this season have been scored in the opening 25 minutes.
If Santos Laguna needs anything, it is to hit the reset button and start the season over. This match is a perfect opportunity for them to do that.
Not only do they have a new manager in place, but they also have the CONCACAF Champions League in their rear-view mirror. Since the tournament began forcing Santos to travel, their performance in league play has suffered.
After losing out to Tigres last week, Los Guerreros will have a singular focus on league play for the first time in two months.
Santos loves to play possession and with Furch, Correra, Preciado and Valdes rested and expected to start in an all hands-on deck approach, a passive Queretaro side will be forced back into their preferred 5-4-1 formation.
Santos has had little trouble generating opportunities this season, they just have not had any luck putting the ball in the back of the net.
Entering this match, they sit -6.50 in expected goals vs actual goals differential – the second largest deficit in Liga MX. Facing the worst defence in the league, there will be plenty of opportunities for Santos to make up part of the deficit. Bettors will find value on the home side.