Santos Laguna defender Hugo Martin Nervo says his team has the proper mindset to beat Club America here Sunday and consolidate its position in the Mexican soccer league's Apertura 2018 championship.
A victory would also provide a confidence boost for the northern Mexican club, winner of the 2017-2018 season's Clausura title, heading into the eight-team playoffs.
"We'll be looking to win so we can move to the top of the standings and end the (regular season) in the best way possible. We're motivated for every match, but when you play this level of opponent the expectations are different for both us and the fans," the Argentine defender said Wednesday.
The Santos Laguna-America match is the most highly anticipated in the 16th and next-to-last round of the Apertura because it pits two title contenders who are in the top three of the table.
Santos (28 points) is in third, just a point behind second-place America, and will leapfrog the Mexico City club if it comes away with three points at home.
The hosts could even climb into first place if league-leading Cruz Azul (30 points) fails to secure three points at home on Saturday against Lobos BUAP.
"Finishing undefeated would be nice, but a win would be even better," Nervo said in reference to Santos' home record in the Apertura of six wins, two draws and no losses.
Santos signed Nervo in mid-2018 to strengthen the club's defense after Carlos Izquierdoz and Nestor Araujo moved to Argentine club Boca Juniors and La Liga side Celta Vigo, respectively, on transfer deals.
Nervo has been a regular starter for head coach Salvador Reyes, who is counting on the Argentine defender to be a key figure for Santos in the Apertura playoffs.
The Torreon-based club missed a chance to move to the top of the standings when it lost 2-1 on the road against Queretaro last weekend.