The Liga MX final is here!
While none of the league's four 'grandes' had enough to get into the final, Toluca and Santos both are pushing for titles that would add to their own illustrious histories.
Toluca is seeking its 11th crown, which would put the Red Devils within striking distance of America and Chivas' shared record of 12 titles each. Santos is looking for its sixth, putting it level with Pachuca and northern rivals Tigres.
First, they'll have to win it on the field though, with Thursday's first leg and Sunday's second all that remain of the 2018 Clausura.
|Game||Santos Laguna vs. Toluca|
|Date||Sunday, May 17|
|Time||9 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|
Manager Robert Siboldi has used both a 4-3-3 and a 4-4-2 during the postseason, and what Santos does Thursday depends on how aggressive he wants to be. After the 4-1 first leg victory over America in the semi-final, don't be surprised to see the same lineup from that match start the first leg of the final.
Nestor Araujo continues to train with the team, but while the center back is on Mexico preliminary roster, it might be a risk to toss him into the lineup in these high-profile contests.
Potential starting XI: Orozco; Abella, Izquierdoz, Alcoba, Angulo; Cortes, Martinez, Vazquez, Lozano; Djaniny, Furch
|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|
With Leonel Lopez returning from injury for Toluca's second leg win over Club Tijuana, manager Hernan Cristante can use the same lineup he leaned on during Toluca's superb regular season.
Potential starting XI: Talavera; Salinas, Gonzalez, Garcia, Borja; Lopez, Rios; Sambueza, Barrientos, Quinones; Uribe
Betting & Match Odds
Santos Laguna is the narrow favorite with dabblebet giving 5/4 odds on a home victory, 2/1 odds on a Toluca win and a draw going at 9/4.
Click here to see all of dabblebet's offers for the Liga MX playoffs.
Home has been where the heart is for Santos Laguna in the postseason.
After an uninspiring 2-0 defeat to Tigres in its first playoff match, Santos came back to Torreon and secured a 2-0 win to go through despite going down a man in the first half. In the semi-finals, a 4-1 thrashing of Club America powered by Julio Furch and Osvaldo Martinez gave Los Guerreros a huge leg up. Santos outplayed America in the second leg as well to get a 2-2 draw and easily move into the final.
Toluca also has been strong at home this year, yet to lose at the Estadio Nemesio Diez this season. So, Santos may need another big first leg in Torreon to have a chance to lift the trophy in enemy territory Sunday.
All three of Santos manager Robert Siboldi's forwards have produced during the postseason with leading goalscorer Djaniny overcoming an injury suffered against Tigres to play in the first leg against America. He rested in the second leg and should be fit. If not, Julio Furch and Jonathan Rodriguez will test Toluca goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, who will look to win the league title before joining up with the Mexico national team.
Santos midfielder Jose Juan "Gallito" Vazquez has been strong this season and was seen by many as one of the snubs on the Mexico roster after his superb Clausura. He'll have his hands full with Pablo Barrientos in the middle and Rubens Sambueza creating on the wing for Toluca.
The creators crafted plenty of options in the second leg against Tijuana, with Fernando Uribe reaping the benefit. The Colombian comes in off a hat trick against Tijuana, and his fantastic finish for his second goal shows it's not simply the playmakers who have talent in the Toluca attack.
Ultimately, both teams will be looking to keep the other from doing much damage. If Toluca keeps it close, it'll feel that it can take the honors in the second leg. If Santos can deliver another superb showing in front of its fans and take a big advantage south, it will be the team feeling better about its chances.