• Who are Monterrey? The Mexican club looking to stun Liverpool at the Club World Cup
    13:39 | 18/12/2019

    As the Reds prepare for Wednesday’s match in Qatar, Goal has put together the definitive guide to their semi-final opponents.

    Photo by Francois Nel

    You know Liverpool are playing Monterrey in the Club World Cup on Wednesday, but you may not know, well, anything at all, about who exactly Monterrey are.

    Fortunately Goal has all the information you need to impress your friends at the pub or the big Club World Cup semi-final watching party you’re almost certainly hosting on Wednesday evening.
    Let’s start with some geography and move into the football:

    Where is Monterrey?

    Monterrey are often overlooked by the Mexican press as they are not located in the capital of Mexico City nor are they one of the league’s four historic ‘grandes’ of Club America, Chivas, Cruz Azul and Pumas.

    Monterrey is in the north of the country, a hub for industry more than 900 kiliometres from Mexico City. Monterrey is closer to Houston, Texas, than to Mexico City or Guadalajara, and the American influence is notable in many elements of the culture.

    Rayados – ‘The Striped Ones’, as the club is commonly known due to their blue-and-white shirts -, have those industry ties both written into their history, having been formed in the 1940s by a group of businessmen, and in the present. Today, the club is owned by FEMSA, a conglomeration of companies that made most of its money from beverages – both soft drinks and beer.

    The ties with the beer industry are obvious from Monterrey’s shirts and other advertising, but also broke into the soccer world in a strange way. Before a 2010 deal with Heineken, the company owned the Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma Brewery, rival of Modelo, which produces Corona.

    When a promising player named Jesus Corona emerged from the academy, club directors branded him ‘Tecatito’ after their brewery’s Tecate mark in order to avoid having the name of a rival splashed across the back of one of their jerseys. Despite moves to Europe, the Porto and Mexico national team player still is known by his nickname to fans throughout the nation.

    FEMSA also owns Oxxo, an omnipresent chain of convenience stores whose logo is found on the team’s shirt for this competition. Oxxo is a frequent subject of jokes and memes on the Mexican internet, mainly focusing around stores’ frequent refusal to open a second cash register when there is a line despite other employees being present and seemingly unoccupied.

    How did Monterrey get here?

    Monterrey won the Conacaf Champions League, topping bitter crosstown rivals Tigres in a two-legged series thanks to a 1-0 win away and a 1-1 draw at home. Both goals were scored by centre-back and captain Nicolas Sanchez.

    The team has been in something of an arms race with Tigres as the northern rivals look to move the epicentre of Mexican football to the north. With various moves in the last several transfer windows, Monterrey amassed one of the most expensive squads in the Americas, which helped it establish regional supremacy.

    The CCL trophy was actually lifted by Diego Alonso, but the Uruguayan manager was given his marching orders after a slow start to the season put the club in danger of missing the post-season.

    After trying for some bigger names, the club turned to a familiar face in Antonio Mohamed, an Argentine coach who had led Monterrey between 2015-2018 before leaving to try his luck with Celta Vigo in Spain.

    Rayados have not lost since Mohamed’s return in mid-October, a 13-match streak across all competitions that the club extended with a 3-2 win over Al-Sadd in the quarter-finals to set up the showdown with Liverpool.

    How do Monterrey play?

    Jurgen Klopp may have said he did not want to talk too much about tactics in the build-up to the match, but we have no such reservations.

    Monterrey have muscle in the middle, speed on the wings and consistency at the back.

    Mohamed has not wildly reworked what Alonso did, but elements of the style he utilised during his first spell with the team have emerged. Mohamed’s teams are extremely comfortable without the ball, looking to surge forward on counterattacks. They are also happy to look long to a traditional No.9.

    Rayados also are happy to switch between playing a back four or going with five at the back, with a number of players in the squad who profile well as wing-backs.

    Who are the players to watch?

    Rodolfo Pizarro – A creative player acquired from Chivas in 2018 and who has been linked to a number of Serie A clubs, Pizarro makes things happen. He struggled to show his brilliance against Al-Sadd but often sets up team-mates with ‘how-did-he-do-that’ passes or creates opportunities for himself with his dribbling ability.

    He is also a player who can get under opponents’ skin, constantly chirping during a game and often baiting defenders into fouls in dangerous areas that set up Monterrey’s strong set-pieces.

    Rogelio Funes Mori – While Vincent Janssen is the more well-known name in England, he has been kept on the bench most of the season by Funes Mori. The lanky Argentine, twin brother of former Everton defender Ramiro, is excellent with his back to goal and has a quick shot that makes him a danger to score from anywhere in the area.  ​

    Jesus Gallardo – One of several regulars in the Mexico national team in the Monterrey squad, Gallardo typically lines up as a winger for Monterrey and a left-back for the national team.

    That shows how versatile he can be, though look for him to be more concerned with getting forward to set up Funes Mori or work with Pizarro and fellow winger Dorlan Pabon than sitting back and defending.

    Source – Goal.com

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