Monterrey had an emotional win in the first leg but they will have an incredibly tough task as they face the second leg against America, this time in Mexico City.
Monterrey were the slightly better side in the first leg, but they failed to take advantage of having an extra player and needed a last minute wonder goal from Rogelio Funes Mori to get a 2-1 win.
Although los Rayados come into this game with the advantage and can claim the title with a tie, América will have the crowd on their side and a history of rising to the occasion in this type of situations. Monterrey, who are coming in from a great FIFA Club World Cup performance, will have to improve a lot to be able to handle an America side that might be favored for the title after Thursday’s game.
Monterrey’s highlight of recent weeks was their 2-1 loss in the Semifinals of the Club World Cup against Liverpool. While they lost the game, Liverpool needed a last-minute goal to get the victory and the ticket to the final. Thus, Monterrey looked to be the team playing at the better level, while América had to be off two weeks as they waited for Monterrey’s tournament to end.
But the first leg was very even, with América even taking the lead off a Carlos Rodriguez own goal. Monterrey then got the equalizer a minute from halftime and they looked to be in a great situation when América’s Sebastian Cordova got red carded in the second half.
Nonetheless, even with the man advantage, Monterrey failed to take hold of the situation and looked desperate and disorganized, creating little danger. It wasn’t until late in the game when América’s Guillermo Ochoa made a great save from a Vincent Janssen header. Ochoa, though, couldn’t keep the winning goal away when Rogelio Funes Mori got off a great bicycle kick for the 2-1. Monterrey had their win but only a goal advantage.
As such, América is trailing but outside of that they are in a prime position for another title. They have history on their side and will have a sold out crowd at home. America has already turned things around in the Liguilla twice as they came back from losses in the first game against Tigres in the Quarterfinals and Morelia in the Semifinals.
That said, America is going to miss Andres Ibarguen (injury) and Cordova (suspension) for the final. Also, Monterrey have as talented of a squad (arguably more talented) as America. However, Monterrey doesn’t have the best history traveling to Mexico City, especially at the Estadio Azteca.
Coach Antonio Mohamed has never won a Liga MX title in his role as Monterrey coach. In this, his second tenure, he could do in a season what he couldn’t do in three years during his first tenure. He would do so against the team in which he last won a Liga MX title and where he didn’t have the best departure. It was also in that final the last time a Monterrey team (Tigres) went to Azteca with a one goal lead, and in the end, it finished with another title for América.
Meanwhile, América’s coach Miguel Herrera has turned things around from having whispers that this season would be his last, to being close to another title. While trailing isn’t ideal, he has the best conditions for a turnaround. Whatever the result, it should be an exciting end to one of the best liguillas ever in Liga MX
Date: Thursday, December 26
Time: 5:00pm Pacific, 7:00pm Central, 8:00pm Eastern
Venue: Estadio Azteca, Ciudad de México, México
TV: TUDN USA (US-Español), Univision (US-Spanish), Azteca 7(Mexico), Canal de las Estrellas(Mexico), TUDN(Mexico)
Listings via LiveSoccerTV.com