Atleti lost their final match of the domestic season 2-0 to Santos Laguna but still finished seventh in the table, ahead of Club Leon on goal difference, with La Fiera coming back to defeat Juarez 2-1 in their previous encounter.
A season that was expected to be a rebuild wound up better than many had thought, with San Luis making it into the play-in round of this competition for the second time in the last three Apertura campaigns.
A strong start domestically in 2023-24 ultimately enabled them to qualify for this round, as they lost just two of their first nine league fixtures while picking up six victories.
From matchday 10 until the end of the Apertura season, Gustavo Leal's men collected a mere four points, conceding multiple strikes on six occasions.
Five of their seven Apertura victories took place on home soil, where Atleti scored over half of their goals (18/31) in this portion of the Liga MX campaign in San Luis.
Six of their domestic victories this season occurred when they drew first blood, though they also lost twice when leading at the half.
With 23 points and their seventh-place standing, this team experienced their highest points total since returning to Liga MX in 2019, while finishing in their highest Apertura position over that stretch.
Needing a win to keep their Apertura title aspirations alive, Leon persevered despite suffering an early setback on matchday 17, winning for only the second time domestically this season after conceding the opening goal.
Throughout this league campaign, the club from Guanajuato relied on their strong defensive play to get by, conceding a goal or fewer on 13 occasions.
Los Esmeraldas won just one match away from home in the opening phase of this competition (2-0 over Santos Laguna) but were in a winning position to triumph three other times as the visitors, dropping seven points when leading in the second half on the road.
Nicolas Larcamon's men conceded seven fewer goals in the Apertura this year than in the previous campaign (29), though 15 of their 22 strikes conceded came away from home.
Leon conceded at least once after 45 minutes in each of their final five Apertura fixtures, winning just one of those contests (2-0 at Santos Laguna), though their 23 points was one more than they managed at this same stage a season ago.
They have advanced into the quarter-finals of the Apertura in three of the past four seasons but missed out on the last eight a year ago when they were beaten by Cruz Azul (1-0), while San Luis ended their hopes of a Clausura title last season with a 3-1 come from behind victory in the reclassification round.
San Luis will be without Andres Iniestra for this encounter because of a meniscus injury, while there were two changes made to their starting 11 from matchday 16 to 17, with Ricardo Chavez and Vitinho coming into the lineup in place of Iker Moreno and Mateo Kilmowicz.
This team have not scored a goal away from home since October 22, when Unai Bilbao and Leo Bonatini each netted, and they were aided by own goals courtesy of Nexaca's Alexis Pena and Arath Moreno in a 4-0 triumph, with Andres Sanchez stopping the only shot that he faced for a clean sheet.
Stiven Barreiro is expected to miss this match for Leon as he is dealing with an unknown injury, and Larcamon made one change to his starting 11 last Sunday, with Fidel Ambriz coming in to replace Lucas Romero.
Brian Rubio and Hector Uribe scored in injury time when they previously defeated San Luis in a domestic encounter, 2-0 at home in March of last season.
Atletico San Luis possible starting lineup:
A. Sanchez; Chavez, Dominguez, Bilbao, Sanabria; Dourado, Guemez; Damm, Villalpando, Murillo; Bonatini
Club Leon possible starting lineup:
Cota; Moreno, Frias, Tesillo, Rodriguez; Hernandez, J. Rodriguez, Ambriz, B. Sanchez; Vinas, Lopez
We say: Atletico San Luis 0-1 Club Leon (Club Leon advances)
Coming off their CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) victory earlier this year, Leon have been disappointing domestically in 2023-24, but they have been resilient of late and found ways to earn results, so we believe their experience in these knockout games will serve them well.
San Luis are in poor form at the moment and looking a little unstable at the back, and we do not believe they will be able to fix those issues in time for this encounter.
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