Toluca Vs. Monterrey, CONCACAF Champions League Preview: An All-Mexican Quarterfinal Battle

The CONCACAF Champions League has long been dominated by Mexican clubs and recently that dominance has been even more pronounced. Since 2002, Mexican clubs have claimed seven of the nine tournaments. The last two tournaments, the only two that have been played in the league format as opposed to the previous cup format, have both seen a Mexican club defeating another Mexican club in the final.

In this edition of the tournament that will not be the case because while four of the eight remaining teams are Mexican clubs they are all on the same side of the bracket and only one will be able to make it to the final. One of the two all-Mexican quarterfinals matches Monterrey and Toluca and begins on Wednesday when Diablos Rojos play host to La Pandilla at Estadio Nemesio Diez.

While a match-up between two Mexican clubs this early in the tournament would normally mean some high quality soccer, that might not be the case because nobody is quite sure how seriously either club is going to take the tournament. While the tournament is meant to crown the best club in the region, it is not treated like the UEFA Champions League or Copa Libertadores and with some clubs, it takes a back seat to preparing for league matches.

Monterrey and Toluca played once in the Apertura and Monterrey came away on top, putting Toluca away 2-0 at home. They have yet to play in the Clausura, but Toluca is playing well and currently leads their group with 12 points from seven matches, while Monterrey is third in their group on 10 points in as many matches.

How they got here
  • Toluca: Despite being favorites to qualify out of their group, Toluca only did so as the second-place team in their group and needed some help on the final day to get through. Diablos Rojos picked up 10 points in the group stage, but had the Puerto Rico Islanders won on the final match day, they would have finished on 11 and eliminated Toluca.
  • Monterrey: After qualifying directly into the group stage, Monterrey had no problem qualifying first in their group. They topped the group on 16 points, six clear of second place and their only blemish was a 2-2 draw away to Saprissa.
What's changed since CCL Group Stage 
  • Toluca: A disappointing Apertura season saw Toluca miss out on the Liguilla, but they have a new manager in Sergio Lugo Barron and are already playing much better than they were prior to the new year.
  • Monterrey: The biggest of change for Monterrey is that they won the Apertura in December and are champions thanks to a goal from Humberto Suazo in the first leg and a pair of Suazo goals in the second leg.
Probable lineups
  • Toluca (4-5-1): Talavera - de la Torre, Duenas, Novaretti, Sepulveda- Zinha, Romagnoli, Esquivel, Calderon, Martinez - Corozo
  • Monterrey (4-4-2): Orozco - Meza, Basanta, Osorio, Ricardo - Perez, Cardozo, Martinez, Ayovi - Nigris, Suazo
Head to head
  • Toluca wins if: They can use their extra midfielder to take control of the center of the park. They've done this well in the Clausura and their midfield play is a big reason they've allowed just four goals in seven matches.
  • Monterrey wins if: They get Suazo some service. The Chilean striker is arguably the best striker in CONCACAF and if he gets enough service, he'll find the goals to put Monterrey through.

Prediction

Toluca controls the play early on and gets a goal at home, but Suazo snatches a late equalizer to put Monterrey in control going home in the second leg.

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