Monterrey will host Club America in the first leg of the 2019 Liga MX Apertura final on Thursday. The defending champions hope to emerge unscathed at the Estadio BBVA in Guadalupe, Mexico. Miguel Herrera led America to the Apertura in 2018 and hopes to retain the title in his second stint with the club, but Monterrey's recent form suggests a new king could be crowned.
How to Watch:
When: Thursday, December 26
Time: 9:39 p.m. ET
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
Los Rayados have only just returned from Doha, Qatar, where Antonio Mohamed's side finished third at the 2019 FIFA Club World Cup. The team lost to eventual champions Liverpool in the semifinals.
That was Mohamed's first defeat in 15 matches since returning to the Monterrey helm in October. His side restored some of its former resilience in the third-place playoff, where the team beat Al Hilal on penalties following a 2–2 draw after extra time.
Thursday's hosts will hope the recent travels won't be a detriment. The last Mexican team to beat Monterrey was Queretaro on Oct. 7. Mohamed's side is unbeaten in its last six home fixtures, including wins in each of the last four.
America has looked somewhat ragged of late and squeezed into the final by virtue of a higher seeding over semifinal opponent Morelia. The two teams exchanged 2-0 wins in their respective home legs, but America advanced after finishing one place ahead of Morelia in the regular season.
Monterrey finished eighth in the regular season and only just qualified for the playoffs, but the team's improvement over the past three months reflects that of a transformed team. Monterrey hasn't made it to the Apertura final since 2017 and last lifted the trophy in 2010.
As fate would have it, Mohamed was at the America helm when it previously won this tournament in 2014, but he'll hope to crush the team's hopes of a resurgence five years on. America will host Monterrey for the final's second leg on Sunday, when the titleholders seek to keep hold of the gong. Or will we see a fresh face return to the pinnacle of Mexican soccer?