After dropping points at home to Cruz Azul last week, the Rayados will be keen to return to winning ways against Toluca.
Monterrey squandered a late lead at home yet again last week, falling off the pace being set by León. After a huge win at home midweek in the Concacaf Champions League, the Rayados will be eager to get back in the win column in the league when it visits Toluca on Sunday.
It will not be easy as the Diablos Rojos have responded to new coach Ricardo La Volpe and currently enjoy a small win streak at home (although the wins came against Veracruz and Atlas). Monterrey will be a much tougher test for the Choriceros but they might take solace from the fact that the Rayados lost their most recent away game in a shock 1-0 defeat at Tijuana.
With only one win in their past five Liga MX games, Monterrey has fallen off the pace being set by León and the Tigres and América is sneaking up behind in fourth. The 5-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on Thursday has taken load of pressure of Monterrey coach Diego Alonso, but the team knows these are an important 3 points if they want to remain in contention for a top seed in the playoffs.
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Toluca has stopped the bleeding since La Volpe took over after Matchday 8, but if they still entertain playoff hopes defending home field is a must.
Monterrey 2, Cruz Azul 2
The home side was cruising with a 2-0 lead early in the second half on a rainy night. The visiting Cementeros kept battling and got one back with 14 minutes remaining then found the equalizer in stoppage time. Monterrey lost 2 points it could not afford to lose as América threatens to overtake them in the standings.
Pachuca 3, Toluca 2
Toluca never really looked likely to get anything from this game, going behind within 4 minutes and never gaining ground on the home side despite getting a second half penalty. Then Pachuca went down to 10 men in the 80th minute and the Diablos threw everything forward, but could not find a way to beat Tuzos goalie Alfonso Blanco who made several miraculous saves.
Toluca: Pablo Barrientos has settled into the new, more aggressive role given him by coach La Volpe and he is gradually developing better understanding with forwards Emanuel Gigliotti and Enrique Triverio.
Monterrey: Midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez is back from a brief injury absence and he played well as a late sub against Cruz Azul last week. He had a strong performance midweek against Sporting KC and if he can rediscover the form he enjoyed a year ago, the Rayados – and maybe even El Tri – will benefit.
I think this will be a close game, a tug of war between Monterrey’s star-studded team desperate for a win and Toluca’s new style under Ricardo La Volpe. Coach Alonso will likely go with his front-line players, figuring he can rest them against Sporting KC in the return match next week. The Rayados have the type of squad that is good enough to get a win in Toluca.