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Regardless of their baffling form in 2020, there are no excuses for Monterrey in this match against a Liga MX minnow. Juarez could give them some trouble through a couple of key players, but this should be a straightforward and simple game for Monterrey.
Somehow finally recovering from their championship hangover of late 2019, Monterrey is gradually beginning to wake up this season. After clinching their second win of the tournament through a 3-1 defeat of Club America last week, there are now signs and hints of the Monterrey side that was once the most feared team in Mexico.
Can they clinch a second win a row for the first time since last December? The highly-talented pieces are all there for manager Antonio Mohamed. After defeating Club America, in theory, Juarez shouldn’t be much of a headache.
But what of Juarez? Slightly boosted by the arrival of aging megastar Marco Fabian, there is reason to believe that the Bordertown team could maybe create some playoff-worthy magic with the former Eintracht Frankfurt player now in their roster. The question for this weekend though is if that will be enough to defeat powerhouse Monterrey.
While many eyes will justifiably focus on the long list of marquee talents that Monterrey will be fielding this weekend, on the other end, plenty will be keeping a close eye on Fabian as well.
Now, 31 and with a history of unfortunate injuries behind him, Fabian doesn’t have the same pace or explosiveness that once partially defined him.
That said, fans did get a chance to see a bit of his vintage form in his debut for Juarez last week. As an attack-minded midfielder, Fabian covered a surprising amount of ground and had a couple of clever passes in the final third in the 0-0 draw with Leon.
And yet, even if he has a brilliant performance that includes a classic golazo, we should still expect Monterrey to counter that with chances of their own.
Once a team that shuffled through a long list of draws and losses, Monterrey turned heads last weekend with their 3-1 win against the most successful team in the country, Club America.
Buoyed by goals from Nicolas Sanchez, Vincent Janssen, and Maximiliano Meza, Monterrey showed real and tangible signs of their dominance last year that led to a 2019 Apertura championship. Undefeated in their last four and with plenty of goals starting to pour in, it seems like the Nuevo Leon squad is now beginning to truly pick up their pace.
Monterrey traversed a mountain to defeat Club America, and since their win, a small hill now lies ahead against Juarez.
Sure, Janssen did go on to earn a red last week, but this now opens up a chance for Funes Mori to make his mark in the upcoming match.
Scoreless in his last five games, the Argentine striker should be motivated to compensate for the absence of Janssen and to once again take the reins as Monterrey’s target player up top.
Knowing full well that he will undoubtedly be the go-to striker this weekend, it would be almost shocking to see Funes Mori stretch his goalless tally to six consecutive games.
Freelance writer Cesar Hernandez is a specialist in all things American and Mexican soccer. He has written for ESPN FC, The Athletic, The Guardian, FourFourTwo, VICE Sports and several other publications. Along with writing and previous radio appearances on the BBC, talkSPORT and SiriusXM FC, Cesar is also a member of the Mexican Soccer Show podcast.
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