Monterrey vs. Santos Laguna, 2013 CONCACAF Champions League Final: 2nd Leg Preview

Kiyoshi Ota

All Monterrey need is a home win and a third consecutive CONCACAF Champions League title is theirs.

Monterrey looked like underdogs heading into the CONCACAF Champions League final. Sure, they had won the previous two tournaments, but Santos Laguna had the better looking team and were well ahead of the Rayados in Liga MX. Put those last two Champions Leagues aside and there was a clear favorite.

But you can't just ignore those two Monterrey trophies, can you?

It doesn't appear so, not after the first leg. Monterrey went to Torreon two wees ago and while they didn't get a goal, they were clearly the better team. They had all of the best chances for the better part of an hour before Cesar Delgado was sent off, but even with 10 men the Rayados kept the Guerreros from getting any great looks at goal.

Monterrey's first leg performance flipped the script on the final. Maybe Santos have a stronger roster and if they get a goal, even a draw earns them the continental championship, but it was difficult to watch the first leg and think Monterrey isn't going to win back at Estadio Tecnologico.

Luckily for Santos, Oribe Peralta appears to be fit, which seemed a longshot when he was injured in the first leg. He went down after his knee twisted awkwardly and had to be carted off the pitch, but after recovering for the last two weeks, Santos' best striker trained again this week.

With him in the team, the Guerreros will likely to return to the normal front three of Peralta, Carlos Darwin Quintero and Herculez Gomez that they eschewed in the first leg. If Pedro Caixinha sends all three out there, Monterrey's defense will be more troubled than they were at any point in Torreon.

Of course, on the other side of the field, Santos have to figure out how to put the clamps on Humberto Suazo, who gave them fits in the first leg. He almost scored minutes after kickoff and hit the bar in the second half. On a different day, he would have led Monterrey to a 2-0 win and if he gets the same space and chances he did again, he probably will put at least two home.

And then there is Aldo De Nigris, who Felipe Baloy did well to minimize in the first leg. But it was that attention to Baloy that helped Suazo get free and Jesus Zavala and Walter Ayovi had no problem picking them up.

The first leg may have ended scoreless, but don't count on that again. Especially in the opening 20 minutes, both teams could have scored in Torreon and goals will come in this one. Santos can score them by the bunches, but they didn't look the part in the first leg. Monterrey did and after all, this is their competition.

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