Santos’ Gerardo Arteaga, right, tries to kick the ball around America’s Renato Ibarra during a Mexico soccer league match in Mexico City, Saturday, April 27, 2019. America won 1-0. (AP Photo/Anthony Vazquez)
- It is Santos Laguna vs Puebla in the Liga MX Playoffs 2021 Semifinals Leg 1 on Thursday, May 20, 2021, at 10:00 pm EST
- Both teams qualified for this semifinal by the slenderest of margins
- We preview the game, look at the odds, and offer a best bet below
Santos Laguna host Puebla in the Liga MX Playoffs 2021 Semifinals Leg 1 on Thursday, May 20, 2021, at 10:00 pm EST. This tournament, named Torneo Guardianes 2021 to honor healthcare workers in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the second part of the Mexican soccer season.
We list the odds, preview Santos Laguna vs Puebla, and offer below the best bet for this huge game.
Santos Laguna vs Puebla Odds
|Santos Laguna vs Puebla||SAN -1 (+130) | LAG +1 (-175)||SAN -143| DRAW +260 | LAG +400||Ov 2.5 (+115) | Un 2.5 (-152)|
Odds as of May 20 at DraftKings
Late Drama Sends Santos Laguna to Semifinal
Santos Laguna set up this semifinal thanks to a dramatic late winner in their quarterfinal clash with Monterrey. After winning the first-leg 2-1 at home in Torreón, they trailed 1-0 away in the second leg until, one minute into injury-time, Ronaldo Prieto scored a dramatic winner.
🎥 Final training before tomorrow’s big one @TSMoficial!! 💪💪#VaPor7i ⭐️#ModoGuerrero 🇳🇬⚔️
— Club Santos EN (@ClubSantosEn) May 20, 2021
In terms of the regular Torneo Clausura season, Santos Laguna finished in fifth place with 26 points from their 17 games, while Puebla finished two places higher, in third, with 28 points; a massive and significant improvement from their 12th place finish in the 2020 Torneo Guardianes – the first half of the Mexican season.
Puebla’s Defense is Key
Puebla also scraped through to this semifinal by the narrowest of margins, with both legs of their quarterfinal with Atlas ending 1-0 to the home side. The Sweet Potatoers, however, qualified for the semifinal by virtue of having finished higher than their opponents in the regular season.
200 RTs antes de las 9pm y publico la LarCAMón🎥 versión Liguilla hoy mismo 👀#PartidoAPartido🎽 pic.twitter.com/BznHy1wddK
— Club Puebla 🎽 (@ClubPueblaMX) May 17, 2021
The upturn in fortunes for Puebla has been stark – they finished the 2020 Torneo Guardianes with a negative goal difference – and it is worth noting that in the first section of the Mexican regular season they conceded 25 goals in their 17 games, whereas this time around they conceded just 14 in 17. This renewed defensive resolve has been consistent throughout the campaign and they have conceded just three in their last six.
Santos Laguna vs Puebla Head-to-Head Stats
|17 / 7||Torneo Guardianes 2021 Games played (regular season) / Wins||17 / 7|
|5-0 (vs Queretaro)||Biggest win||4-1 (vs Mazatlan)|
|1-2 (vs Leon)||Biggest defeat||1-4 (vs Pumas UNAM)|
Santos Lead in Head-to-Heads
In terms of head-to-heads between these two, there have been 38 games with Santos Laguna having the better record with 15 wins so far. By contrast, Puebla has only tasted victory four times, with 19 games ending in draws. Their most recent meeting was on May 2, also at Torreón’s Estadio Corona, and ended in a goalless draw, but it was a game dominated by Santos, who enjoyed 61% possession and had 20 shots, while Puebla had just 10.
We’ll be training this afternoon ahead of the semifinal first leg vs. @ClubPueblaMX. #VaPor7i ⭐️#ModoGuerrero 🇳🇬⚔️ pic.twitter.com/Svkp1xwUvY
— Club Santos EN (@ClubSantosEn) May 19, 2021
In the most recent head-to-heads, Santos has won three on the spin, so it will need Puebla’s much-improved defense to be at its very best in order for them to still be in the tie ahead of the second leg on their home soil on Monday night.
2021 MLS Cup Odds Tracker
For Santos, manager Guillermo Almada has a few injuries to contend with, with one notable, big-name absentee being Brian Lozano – who has been out for almost a year after fracturing his tibia and fibula – but Jonathan Díaz, Ulises Rivas, and Jair González are also missing, and although Juan Otero is back training, he will not be fit for this first leg.
¡Ya llegó el Puebla a La Comarca, hijos de su Enfranjadísima!🔵 Ahora venimos por nuestra preciosa ventaja 🔥🤩
RT si ya estás sintiendo esos bonitos nervios de Semifinal 👊🏻👀#PartidoAPartido🎽 con #LaFranjaQueNosUne🔵 pic.twitter.com/T6RGbmmq7M
— Club Puebla 🎽 (@ClubPueblaMX) May 20, 2021
Puebla’s situation is more clear-cut with no new injuries having been reported after the quarterfinal win, with Christian Tabó the only doubt after recently picking up a thigh strain.
Santos Laguna vs Puebla Best Bets
Puebla’s excellent defense has been largely responsible for their excellent 2021 but after going through a rich vein of form in front of goal – 14 goals in four games – they have most recently scored just one goal in their last four games. This will be a concern for them.
𝘔𝘰𝘳𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘩𝘺𝘱𝘦 𝘷𝘪𝘥, courtesy of @FOXDeportes
Buenos días, 𝔊𝔲𝔢𝔯𝔯𝔢𝔯𝔬𝔰!! #VaPor7i ⭐️#ModoGuerrero 🇳🇬⚔️pic.twitter.com/RPqw5LDiye
— Club Santos EN (@ClubSantosEn) May 18, 2021
Santos, meanwhile, has enjoyed some fine home form – just one loss all season – and also has that excellent head-to-head record with Puebla in their favor. But this will be close and no goal-fest. First-leg ties are notoriously cagey affairs and this will be no different, especially with the away team’s useful knack of conceding very few goals.
So, while the home win may be the obvious outcome here, the value is most certainly with the draw – most likely a low-scoring one.
Pick: Santos Laguna and Puebla to draw (+260)
Once just a sports fanatic, fan-turned-writer Gary Gowers has been featured on European television and radio networks to discuss several professional football clubs. His work can be found in an assortment of publications like The Metro, MyFootballWriter.com, and BBC Radio Norfolk.