Santos Laguna are not in fine fettle.
CF Montreal’s first serious piece of business of 2022 comes along on Tuesday evening against the Mexicans and they won’t be facing a team in form.
Quite the opposite in fact. Last night Pedro Caixinha’s green and white hoops lost their fourth LigaMX game on the bounce... but it would still be foolish to think this will be anything other than a mightily difficult encounter for the Montrealers.
After picking up only one point in the first five rounds of the Clausura, Santos will be welcoming of any distraction from league play, hopeful of finding a result to kick-start their fledgling 2022 season.
The simple fact they have five competitive games under their belt and Montreal none, is enough to set the warning signs flashing, but there’s nothing much else particularly daunting for the Canadian Champions.
Of course it’s Mexico and of course the crowd will be partizan, but we knew all that already. There are problems in the Santos camp as new boss Pedro Caixinha strives for the winning formula and a first victory since arriving in December.
The former Rangers (Scotland) manager will be feeling the pressure at a club that expects not to be rooted at the bottom of the Mexican table.
There’s been plenty of goals (19) in Santos five Clausura games and not surprisingly for a team looking suspect in defence, twelve of them have been past goalkeeper Carlos Acevedo.
Strangely for Santos and last night’s opponent Club America, another Mexican outfit Montreal knows well, the game was billed as a basement battle with both sides struggling at the foot of the table with only one point apiece.
But it was the team from the capital which left with the points after Santos had led 2-1. America fashioned an equalizer in first-half added time through Salvador Reyes and clinched the result when Paraguayan international Bruno Valdes converted a spot-kick twelve minutes after the restart.
One player Montreal will need to keep an eye on is 27-year-old Colombian Harold Preciado. Preciado joined Santos from Deportivo Cali earlier this month after his illuminating form (8 goals in 7 games including the Championship winner) lit up the Final Phase League Play-offs.
The left-side attacker scored a well-taken individual goal within seven minutes of making his debut for Santos in a 1-2 defeat to high-riding Atlas last weekend. Chances were few and far between last evening however but he did force Ochoa into a decent save with his feet on 52 minutes.
Preciado plays in a striking role preferring to operate on the left and has just recently forced his way into the Colombian national team squad.