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Match Preview: Monterrey vs Pachuca

Monterrey need to win by 3 or more goals to get the ticket to the final that looks to be in Pachuca’s hands already.

Pachuca v Monterrey - Playoffs Torneo Apertura 2022 Liga MX Photo by Manuel Velasquez/Getty Images

Monterrey is in deep trouble after a 3-goal disadvantage courtesy of their 1st leg loss against Pachuca by a 5-2 score. Pachuca is in prime position to advance as they are in a better moment and have the boost from the late goal. Monterrey held a rally in their stadium as players promised to complete the comeback on Sunday, but it will be very tough to stop Pachuca from eliminating both Monterrey teams.

With coach Victor Manuel Vucetich, Rayados went into the 1st leg with a defensive set up that tried to minimize their opponent’s opportunities. It paid off for Monterrey after a very well played 1st half where they took a 2-2 tie at halftime before it all crumbled. A minute into the 2nd half, Pachuca took back the lead followed by Monterrey going down to 10 players when Erick Aguirre got red carded. Still, the moment that changed things was when Pachuca’s goalkeeper Oscar Ustari made a mistake and gifted Rayados and PK. Rogelio Funes Mori stepped up to take it, but Ustari guessed correctly, and a minute later it was Pachuca who got a PK. They converted and went from a possible 3-3 tie to a 4-2 lead. Monterrey crumbled after that, even allowing 1 more goal. Now things are tough as Monterrey has to go all out and it will open up the team to get countered by Pachuca, who have young talent and are good at playing that type of match. While Monterrey has been solid defensively, going all out to attack from the start is not going to help their cause and Vucetich hasn’t been the most offensive coach. It seems that at the time they needed it, going defensive really ended up potentially costing the team their season.

Pachuca didn’t have as good a regular season as they did in the 2022 Clausura, but they have picked it up at the right time. After eliminating Tigres, the other Monterrey team, in the Quarterfinals, they now have Rayados on the ropes. They played spoiler to the interest of a Clasico Regio in the Semifinals between Monterrey and Tigres and are now playing spoiler to the season for Monterrey and the possible Final. Still, it must be known that 3-goal leads have fallen before. Last tournament, Tigres also needed 3 goals in a series against Atlas and came all the way back for a 4-1 lead at home before a late penalty kick gave Atlas the 4-2 score to barely make it through before winning the title. That being said, a mistake by Tigres had meant that any win would have been voided as Coach Miguel Herrera had subbed in too many foreign players against the rule in the 2nd half. Pachuca are in prime position, but one mistake, like Monterrey had with the red card and the missed PK, and the match could turn around quickly.

Pachuca looks set to make it to the final, but 90 minutes will determine it tonight. While the lead looks solid and Pachuca appear the better equipped team to take advantage of a counter-attacking offensive display, Monterrey fans will make it a tough situation and the momentum can switch fast. It will hopefully turn into a good show, although quick goals by Pachuca would also kill the match just as fast.