Not even a heroic performance against European champions Liverpool could convince the oddsmakers of making Monterrey favorites to win the 2019 Liga MX Apertura. Sure, las Águilas have been here before on a record amount of occasions, but Monterrey have really made a case for themselves across the last few weeks. In fact, picking against the most winning team in Liga MX history is never easy, but when you think about this América team and how wildly inconsistent they have been through the course of the season, the idea that los Rayados could be lifting the trophy on Sunday at the Estadio Azteca doesn’t sound crazy at all.
Here are three reasons why Monterrey will beat América to win the 2019 Liga MX Apertura.
1. Monterrey have been 100% focused since the return of Antonio Mohamed
You can say a lot of things about Antonio “Turco” Mohamed and his Monterrey, but the reality is that the numbers tell the whole story. Since the return of Mohamed as coach of the team, los Rayados have been on absolute fire. To put things into perspective, Monterrey have not lost a single Liga MX game with Mohamed back, accumulating nine straight games without a defeat.
Mohamed’s appointment was always going to be the safest option following Diego Alonso’s early-season destitution, but you get the feeling that not even the biggest Mohamed enthusiast expected los Rayados to pick up the momentum that they have. His familiarity with the team, having previously coached Monterrey from 2015-2018, definitely helped, and the only “period of adaptation” the team went through involved two draws in his first three games. Since, Monterrey have won five of their last six.
Tactically speaking, the team looks as good as ever, particularly when scoring goals. Previous Monterrey teams under Mohamed were famous for the amount of shots they took. This team has followed suit, with the only major difference is they are actually scoring goals. Los Rayados have netted at least twice in five of their last eight in Liga MX.
2. They have one of the best squads in all of Mexico
Lot’s can also be said about the team that Antonio Mohamed will have at his disposal ahead of this final. Although some doubts exist when it comes to the defense, from the midfield up is where Monterrey look the most dangerous. Rodolfo Pizarro remains one of the most dynamic players in all of Liga MX, and having to choose between Rogelio Funes Mori and Vincent Janssen as your starting striker says everything you need to know about the depth of this team. Of course, this is without mentioning players like Dorlan Pabon and Carlos Rodriguez, who have played a tremendous role tactically for los Rayados.
At the end, you can make the argument that Monterrey have a more talented squad than Club América. From just looking at Monterrey’s last starting XI in Liga MX against Necaxa, you can see that more than half of Monterrey players are or have been part of a national team. This is testament of just how much Monterrey ownership has been wanting this league title through the last few years. A league title they are way overdue.
3. Momentum can be everything
Let’s talk about the Club World Cup. All things considered, Monterrey’s performance at the Club World Cup was decent. Third place is more or less what most expected from this team, and they came real close to taking down Liverpool in the Semifinals.
While many will see Monterrey’s participation in the Club World Cup as something of a distraction, the good news here is they’ll arrive to Thursday’s first leg in better playing form than their rival. As opposed to Club América, Monterrey have played three games in the last two weeks, That is three games more than América have played through that same timespan.
In a tournament like a Liguilla, these things tend to matter. Momentum can make or break seasons, and you can’t really arrive to a decisive series like this one struggling for playing rhythm, especially with a team like América that has oscillated wildly in form all season. Monterrey have both the rhythm and the momentum. In other words, they have everything they need to write their name on the trophy and add a fifth start to their jersey.