Monterrey Vs. Santos Laguna, 2012 CONCACAF Champions League Final: Scoreless at the Half

Well, it seemed the goals would come easily in this match, but there was no scoring between Monterrey and Santos Laguna in the first half of the CONCACAF Champions League Final opening leg. These teams know each other well, and they obviously studied the habits of their opponents to get a good defensive game plan.

Somewhat surprisingly, both teams are following their respective strategies in the first 45 minutes. That means Monterrey have held most possession and tried to create a sustained buildup in their attack. While the Rayados have looked more likely to open the scoring so far, that fits well in Santos' pattern, as they have played well on the counterattack in the past two rounds of the CCL and stayed back until their opponent is tired out and confident of a result. They have executed the early stage of that game plan perfectly to this point, soaking up pressure and reversing the run of play when they get an opening.

It seemed the game would be blighted by yellow cards in the opening minutes, as Humberto Suazo received one in the fourth minute and Neri Cardozo got one in the 10th minute, both on somewhat soft calls. The biggest individual battle in the opening half was between Suazo and Santos center back Felipe Baloy, as the two battled back and forth. Baloy received a yellow card of his own in the 40th minute after knocking Suazo down on a breakaway. Fortunately, the pace of the yellow cards has slowed, and perhaps all 22 players will finish this match (there's still a lot of soccer to be played, however).

Although Monterrey had the lion's share of possession and took more shots, they were not high-quality chances and Santos had the closest looks on goal. Candido Ramirez took a shot on a volley from the corner of the box in the 20th minute that unfortunately curled away from the far post and was ultimately harmless. In the 42nd minute, Darwin Quintero ran down the length of the field with the ball on a counterattack and instead of taking the shot himself, he tried to be crafty and passed the ball across Monterrey's box to a teammate. A Monterrey defender stepped in and blocked the cross, snuffing out the most exciting sequence of the match so far.

The game has been interesting but these teams are still feeling each other out. It's unlikely the match will stay scoreless; expect one or both teams to open up the opposing defense and get on the scoresheet in the second half.

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