Monterrey will be hoping to get the necessary first step en route to a matchup against Champions Leagues winner Liverpool when they face the hosts Al Sadd in the second round of the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup. Al Sadd, coached by Spanish great Xavi Hernandez, already played their first match, a disappointing extra time win against amateur team Hienghene Sport. While Al Sadd are at home, they aren’t favored against Monterrey. Los Rayados will need to approach this game prepared, something they failed to do when they went out against hosts Raja Casablanca in 2013.
For Monterrey, this will be their fourth appearance in a Club World Cup, currently holding the best finish of any Mexican team in a Club World Cup with a third-place finish (tied only by Necaxa in 2000 and Pachuca in 2017). But while most Mexican fans expect a Mexican team to finish at least third behind UEFA and CONMBEBOL teams, the record of Mexican teams in the World Cup has been disappointing. CONCACAF is also the only federation besides Oceania not to get to play in the final. It doesn’t seem like Monterrey will break that streak with having favorite Liverpool on their path, but they must at least face them to not consider this trip a total failure.
Al Sadd comes in as the host club team, and Asia’s representative is Al-Hilal. In the opening match, they had a terrible result when an amateur New Caledonian team, Hienghene Sport, pushed them into extra time. While Al Sadd won 3-1, their performance left a lot to be desired. Still, they are at home and just last year the host team, UAE’s Al Ain, got to the final of the CWC. They will be led by Algerian star striker Baghdad Bounedjah and coached by Xavi Hernandez. While the Spanish legend has not had a good time coaching the team in recent games, in a press conference he showed to have been studying Monterrey. Mexican teams have historically had trouble against teams lead by a lone star player, just ask America and how they fared against Paulinho’s Guangzhou Evergrande in 2015.
Monterrey have a historic opportunity to do something in this Club World Cup. Often times, Mexican teams go to this competition at low levels. However, this time Mexico is sending a team at its best.
Nonetheless, the news that Vincent Janssen will miss the tournament and Celso Ortiz is also injured, are not good news for the Monterrey. That said, they should have more than enough in their bench alone to get through Al Sadd. It’s an incredibly important opportunity for Monterrey to show that Mexico is good enough to get at least another third-place finish in this competition.
Date: Saturday, December 14
Time: 9:30am Pacific, 11:30am Central, 12:30pm Eastern
Venue: Al-Sadd Stadium, Doha, Qatar
TV: FOX Deportes (US-Español), Fox Sports 2 (US-English), Fox Sports (Mexico)
Listings via LiveSoccerTV.com