Preview: Santos Laguna vs. Atlas – prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Friday’s Liga MX clash between Santos Laguna and Atlas, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

With two matchdays now complete, the Liga MX table is starting to take shape, and Santos Laguna will be looking to build on their win from last week when they take on Atlas at Estadio Nuevo Corona on Thursday.

Both sides are set in mid-table on three points each, and the managers will be hoping for a positive result here as they will not want to fall too far off the pace from the sides at the top of the league in the early stages.

Match preview

Carlos Acevedo for Santos Laguna© Reuters

Pablo Repetto has had a few months to familiarize himself with his squad, and after a 2-0 loss to Queretaro in the opening match of the campaign, the Uruguayan seemed to have got the formula right in their last match as they picked up their first points of the season, beating Puebla 3-2 last weekend.

They were down 1-0 inside the first five minutes of the match, but a brace by Harold Preciado and a final goal from Juan Brunetta was enough to see them get their away record off to a good start.

However, Repetto will be mindful that while they did get the points, they also let in two goals in consecutive matches, and it may not be as easy to score against some of the better defences in the league.

San Laguna’s astonishing fall from third in the 2022-23 first phase to outside the Final series playoff spots in the second phase was largely attributable to defensive issues, where they conceded the second-most goals of any side in the league (37), with only bottom club Mazatlan letting in more (41).

The new boss will not want old habits to set in and will see his side keeping a clean sheet as a priority in this match to give them momentum at the start of a run of home league matches.

In contrast, Atlas got their season off to a very good start, overcoming Cruz Azul 2-0 at home on the opening weekend, but failed to follow up on the road in their second match, when they lost 1-0 to Monterrey.

Benjamin Mora‘s side had an atrocious first phase last season, finishing second-bottom with just 13 points in 17 matches and six points off the playoff qualification places; however, they turned it around admirably in the second phase to secure a ninth-placed finish, and they will likely be aiming to push closer to the top four this season.

Their hopes of reaching the higher ranks, though, will be heavily dependent on their ability to improve their away record from last season, when they managed only three wins in 19 games, along with seven draws and nine losses.

Historically, this has been a very even contest, with both sides winning one match each in the last seven encounters, while the other five all ended level, including the most recent one, which was a 2-2 draw back in January.

Santos Laguna Liga MX form:

Atlas Liga MX form:

Team News

LDU Quito coach Pablo Repetto on December 02, 2021© Reuters

The hosts will have one injury absentee in the form of Carlos Acevedo, who will be out until September with a shoulder injury.

Repetto’s decision to play Brunetta in a more advanced role in the last match paid off in a big way, and we should see a similar setup here with Preciado spearheading the attack, flanked by Emerson Rodriguez and Duvan Vergara.

In the opposite dugout, Mora will be without the services of Ozziel Herrera, who is away on international duty, while Mauro Manotas is a doubt due to a muscle injury.

Brian Lozano has now served his one-match ban for the two yellow cards he picked up against Cruz Azul on the opening weekend and should return to the frontline alongside Julio Furch and Eduardo Aguirre.

Santos Laguna possible starting lineup:
Lajud; Campos, Doria, Torres, R Lopez; A Lopez, Cervantes, Vergara, Brunetta, Rodriguez; Preciado

Atlas possible starting lineup:
Vargas; Abella, Nervo, Santamaria, Reyes; Marquez, Rocha, Zaldivar; Lozano, Furch, Aguirre

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We say: Santos Laguna 1-1 Atlas

Over the years, this has proven to be a clash between two very evenly-matched teams, and by looking at their early-season form, there is nothing to choose between them at this moment. This match has a draw result written all over it.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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