Remember when Diego Cocca was managing Santos Laguna and they were hanging out near the bottom of the Mexican Primera table? Probably not. That was a long time ago and that team seemingly fell off the face of the earth. That's because this new Santos side popped up, one managed by Benjamin Galindo and they don't resemble that original Santos team at all. No one who watched Santos at the beginning of the season would believe that they would be in the Liguilla final, but here they are, getting ready to take on UANL Tigres for the Mexican Apertura title.
From August 2 to August 27, Santos did not win any of their five matches, only drawing one. That meant the end for Cocca and brought in Galindo after a long and sometimes strange search that saw them interview several candidates. In the end though, they landed Galindo and did it ever pay off. From September 10 to October 15, Santos did not lose a match, winning five of six and powering their way up the table. By the end of the season they were fourth in the table before taking down Jaguares and Morelia in the first two rounds of the Liguilla.
So here Santos stand now, two matches away from reigning over Mexico. Despite Felipe Baloy and Santiago Hoyos, Santos haven't done it with defense either. Fantastic central defenders or not, Baloy and Hoyos' defense have made a habit of giving away goals, keeping just one clean sheet since October 1. Oribe Peralta has made that inconsequential though, scoring a dozen goals to lead the Santos attack to the second-highest goal total in the Apertura. Carlos Quintero has chipped in with half a dozen goals of his own and what we have is a deadly attacking team.
Whether Santos really are as good in the attack as their numbers appear will certainly be challenged in the Liguilla final. Tigres have yet to allow a goal in the Liguilla and will present as stern a challenge as Santos has faced, maybe putting the onus on their defense to stand strong. It's been about the attack thus far for Santos, but can it stay that way against Tigres or will this become about Baloy and Hoyos?