The 98th and 99th playing of the Clásico Regiomontano will decide the 2019 Concacaf club champion.
For the eighth time in 11 years, two Liga MX teams will square off in the Concacaf Champions League Final and this time fans will be treated to a Clásico Regiomontano. The Tigres will host Monterrey in the first leg on Tuesday night, then the teams will cross town to play the Grand Final at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer on May 1.
Monterrey will be battling to lift their fourth CCL trophy while the Tigres hope to claim their first international title since their foundation in 1967. The Rayados won their three titles in consecutive seasons (2011-2012-2013), while the Tigres lost both prior Finals appearances (2016 and 2017).
Tigres coach Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti is 0-2 in CCL finals, while Rayados coach Diego Alonso won a Concacaf Champions League title with Pachuca in 2017, ironically enough against Tuca and the Tigres.
Regardless of who wins, Mexico will have 35 Concacaf Champions titles, by far the most. Costa Rican teams have won 6 titles, El Salvador 3 while teams from Haiti, Honduras, Surinam, Guatemala and the United States have won 2 each.
The Tigres (2nd place in our Power Rankings) and Monterrey (3rd place) have already qualified for the Liga MX playoffs and are battling for favorable seeding in the Liguilla with two games remaining. Both teams rested starters over the weekend, setting the stage for an intense first 90 minutes.
Road to the Final
Saprissa 1, Tigres 0
Tigres 5, Saprissa 1
André-Pierre Gignac was held out of both games, the first of which the Tigres appeared to sleepwalk through. Enner Valencia notched a hat trick in the second game to lead the Tigres into the quarterfinals with an impressive team performance
Houston Dynamo 0, Tigres 2
Tigres 1, Houston Dynamo 0
Gignac was out injured, but Valencia and Julián Quiñones posted a goal and an assist in the first leg on the road. The Tigres played strong defense at home in the second to move on to the semifinals with relative ease.
Tigres 3, Santos 0
Santos 3, Tigres 2
Valencia scored two first-half goals after Edu Vargas opened the scoring and the Tigres – still without Gignac – smothered Santos in the first game. Valencia and Quiñones scored first-half goals that seemed to clinch the series but Santos fought back late at home, falling three goals short. Valencia leads the CCL this year with 7 goals.
The Tigres are 4-0-2 in the CCL, for 12 points, recording 13 goals for and 5 goals against.
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LOS RAYADOS DE MONTERREY
Alianza 0, Monterrey 0
Monterrey 1, Alianza 0
The Rayados struggled to find the net against the minnows from El Salvador despite dominating the stats in both games. Nico Sánchez scored the winner at home on a penalty kick in minute 86. Not a good start to the tournament, but the Rayados were into the quarterfinals.
Monterrey 3, Atlanta United 0
Atlanta United 1, Monterrey 0
The Rayados smacked the reigning MLS champions in the mouth in the first game as Sánchez converted an early penalty while Dorlan Pabón and Jesús Gallardo scored splendid goals late. In the second game in Atlanta, Monterrey played stifling defense, conceding a goal in minute 77 and marching into the semifinals.
Monterrey 5, Sporting KC 0
Sporting KC 2, Monterrey 5
The Rayados looked rampant in both games, completely dominating Sporting KC in the first leg with a flowing offense that surged forward repeatedly. Monterrey scored 6 of their 10 goals in the second half, wearing down the MLS contenders, coasting into the final while barely breaking a sweat. A tremendous showing by the Rayados.
Monterrey is 4-1-1 in the CCL for 13 points, with 14 goals for, 3 goals against.
By virtue of piling up more points than the Tigres (13 to 12), the Rayados earned the right to host the second leg of the CCL Finals.
Dueñas – Ayala – Meza – Torres Nilo
Carioca – Pizarro
Aquino – Vargas – L. Quiñones
Striker André-Pierre Gignac returned over the weekend from a 6-week injury absence and I think coach Tuca Ferretti will start him. Enner Valencia filled in well in Gignac’s absence and I expect to see him inserted in the second half. Javier Aquino will help widen the Monterrey defense, but Juergen Damm and Lucas Zelarayán will be on hand for late defense. With Carlos Salcedo expected to miss the first leg, Francisco Meza must play well in the center of defense.
Layún – Medina – Sánchez – Vangioni
Pabón – Rodríguez – Pizarro – Gallardo
Funes Mori – Hurtado
Central defender César Montes will be missed (suspension) so Stefan Medina will be moved inside. Coach Diego Alonso might opt for a more defensive-oriented line-up in the first leg on the road (midfielder Maxi Meza for Avilés Hurtado) and shift into a 4-2-3-1 formation with Rodolfo Pizarro leading the three-man attack behind the striker, Rogelio Funes Mori.
Tigres: Fullback Jesús Dueñas has proven his versatility all season, playing well at right back and left back as well as in midfield when called upon. Against Monterrey, he will have to track wide against speedy midfielders and wingers while also cutting off passing lanes into the box where Funes Mori will be occupying the Tigres central defenders.
Monterrey: Midfielder Rodolfo Pizarro has rediscovered the form he flashed with the Chivas two years ago and his dribbling and distribution has opened up holes in opposing defenses the past month. He’ll likely face plenty of double teams from Rafael Carioca and Guido Pizarro, but if he can unlock the center of the pitch the Rayados will enjoy some success.
I’m not sure Gignac is ready to play 90 minutes, so a lot could depend on Tuca’s substitution pattern. Due to injuries and suspensions, the Tigres might switch to a 5-man back line in the second half if they get an early lead. I don’t think Tuca can try to manage a first-leg result against a team as explosive as the Rayados, but the Tigres will look to establish control of tempo and possession early. Both defenses are short-handed, so there will be goals scored.