The CONCACAF Champions League, and the region’s place at the Club World Cup, will be decided Wednesday when Toluca hosts Cruz Azul in the second leg of the final (8 p.m. ET; Fox Sports 2, Univision Deportes Network).
|CONCACAF Champions League Finals|
|Atlante 2-0||Cruz Azul||2008-09|
|Pachuca 2-2||Cruz Azul ||2009-10|
|Monterrey 3-2 ||RSL||2010-11|
Last week’s first leg between the top two teams in the Liga MX table produced some action but no goals, and the teams head to Estadio Nemesio Diez level.
Guillermo Allison, Cruz Azul’s 23-year-old reserve keeper, put in one of the standout performances in the first leg, but his services likely won’t be needed in the return trip. Usual starter Jesus Corona had an extra suspension stemming from an incident in the second leg of the club’s semifinal win against Tijuana overturned and will be available for the match.
The draw means the visitors come in knowing a draw involving goals in regulation would see them lift the trophy thanks to the away goals tiebreaker.
“We are going to look for that goal that gives us a championship,” Gerardo Flores told CONCACAF.com. “It can be won. We are aware and we are going to work hard to make that goal and be champions.”
But Toluca has lost at La Bombonera just once in 13 CONCACAF Champions League matches, a 1-0 loss to eventual winner Monterrey in 2011 the only blemish. Of course, Jose Cardozo’s side will also be targeting a goal as early as possible.
“We have to be very intelligent, administer well, to be much more aggressive at home and to try to look for the goal that gives us the possibility of handling the game,” he told CONCACAF.com. “The target is to go out as a champion.”
The impressive home record doesn’t mean all the history is on the Red Devils’ side. Cruz Azul is attempting to become the most successful club in the region with by lifting its sixth continental championship, but none of those have come in the Champions League era. In fact, a runner-up finish would mark the third time since the format was changed for the 2008-09 edition that La Maquina finished second.
If the match is scoreless after regulation, it will go to extra time then penalty kicks if a winner is still yet to be decided. Mexican official Marco Rodriguez is set to be the man in the middle.
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