Monterrey face America for Concacaf glory and UAE ticket
Monterrey take on America in Concacaf Champions League final
At stake: a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup
Who Javier Aguirre or Santiago Solari lead their side to glory?
Concacaf's representative at the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup™ in the United Arab Emirates will be either Monterrey or America. FIFA.com previews a clash of the titans in the Concacaf Champions League final.
The decider will be decided in a single fixture on Thursday, 28 October at 21:00 local time. Monterrey have home advantage and will welcome America to the Estadio BBVA, a spectacular modern arena inaugurated just six years ago.
Road to the final
Monterrey started their campaign against Atletico Pantoja of the Dominican Republic in the Round of 16. Los Rayados made light work of the fixtures, winning 6-1 on aggregate to progress to the quarter-finals, where they ended the hopes of Columbus Crew, winning 5-2 on aggregate. In the semis they found themselves up against Mexican league champions Cruz Azul. After a hard-fought 1-0 win in the home leg, they unleashed their formidable attack at the Azteca to run out 4-1 victors on the night and 5-1 on aggregate.
America, by contrast, started very shakily against Hondurans Olimpia in the Round of 16. A 2-1 triumph in Tegucigalpa was undone by a 1-0 reverse at the Azteca, with Las Aguilas only advancing thanks to the away-goals rule. From then on, however, it was plain sailing for the capital side, who eliminated Portland Timbers (4-2 on aggregate) and then sealed their place in the final at the expense of Philadelphia Union (4-0 on aggregate).
America lead the way in the Liga MX Apertura, eight points clear of their nearest pursuers. Three months into the championship, they have only been beaten once and look to have fully adapted to their Argentinian coach Santiago Solari, who took up the reins at the start of the year. America aim for balance in their play, with a strong emphasis on ball retention as they build from the back without neglecting their defensive duties. In goal they have the assured and dependable Guillermo Ochoa, whose extensive experience with Mexico’s national team includes appearances at the last two FIFA World Cups™. The team’s defence, with the likes of Bruno Valdez and Miguel Layun, is no less solid, conceding just four times in the six games played en route to thre final. Going forward, America have a wealth of options, with Sebastian Cordova and Henry Martin, two key members of El Tri’s squad at the Tokyo Olympics, standing out.
For their part Los Rayados have one of the most complete squads in Mexican football, even if recent results – four defeats in their last five league games – might suggest otherwise. In goal they have Esteban Andrada, while the rearguard offers a mix of youth and experience in Cesar Montes and Hector Moreno. The midfield encompasses talents like Maximiliano Meza, Arturo Gonzalez and Carlos Rodriguez, ensuring a steady supply to Joel Campbell and Rogelio Funes Mori up front. Despite their recent travails, tomorrow’s final would be the perfect time for Javier Aguirre’s charges to return to winnings ways and grace the Club World Cup once again.
Club World Cup experience
Both teams would know what to expect in the UAE having already featured in multiple editions of the tournament. Los Rayados have flown the flag for Concacaf on four occasions – 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2019 – their best result coming at the latter edition, when they finished third after losing 2-1 to Liverpool in the semis. America, meanwhile, have had three tilts at the world title, in 2006, 2015 and 2016. In the first and last of these, they managed fourth place, which remains their best finish in the competition.
What they said…
"We’ve been very poor in the league, but now we have this historic opportunity to turn things around. We have to work really well and be mentally prepared. It’s a completely different competition and, with it being the final, we just have to go for it. The team are determined to turn the page and put this difficult period behind them." Javier Aguirre, Monterrey coach "It's really fantastic. We’ve fought hard to be here and are delighted, as it’s very difficult to reach a final no matter where you are in the world. I’ve had the good fortunate to play in many international finals, which is why I know how hard it is to reach them. The team and all the players deserve to enjoy it and, of course, we’ll be going out to win." Santiago Solari, America coach