Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Santos Laguna v America: Defending champs eye back-to-back finals

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 15 Mar 2016

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Standing in the way of title holders America and another CONCACAF Champions League final are Santos Laguna as the Mexican rivals prepare to go head-to-head in the final four.

Santos welcome six-time winners America to Estadio Corona for the opening leg of their semi-final tie on Wednesday.

America head to Torreon having dispatched MLS side Seattle Sounders 5-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.

The Liga MX giants also overcame Chivas Guadalajara in Sunday’s Clasico Nacional.

But while two-time runners-up Santos are wary of an America team boasting Oribe Peralta, Carlos Quintero and Michael Arroyo – who have scored 10 goals between them in the Champions League – midfielder Diego Gonzalez is bullish about their chances.

“They have players who are very important, if you give them space and let them dictate it will be very difficult,” said Gonzalez.

“They are players of very good quality, have a lot of experience and know how to play this kind of game.

“But we have to try to play our game, forget who is in front of us and try to show what we are capable of.”

Santos, who were beaten finalists in 2011-12 and 2012-13, booked their spot in the semis via a comprehensive 4-0 rout of LA Galaxy over two legs.

The five-time Mexican champions have since won back-to-back matches against Atlas and Pachuca as they bid to finally lift the Champions League title after two near misses.

“We come at a good time, two wins in a row, now we confront America in an important situation for the club and for us as players. We are ready,” said defender Jorge Villafana.

“It is very important. It is the first time I will play at this stage of the tournament.

“We will face an opponent that will not be easy. But if we move to the next round we have a very good chance of winning the tournament.”

The reward for the winner will be a showdown with either Queretaro or Tigres UANL in the decider.

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