Football Features

Monterrey team preview: The CWC’s third-most successful side who had Liverpool “on their knees” in 2019

By Ben Green

Monterrey team preview: The CWC's third-most successful side who had Liverpool "on their knees" in 2019

Published: 17:50, 2 February 2022 | Updated: 17:34, 7 February 2022

Concacaf Champions League winners Monterrey enter their fifth Club World Cup as the third-most successful side in the competition.

Rayados currently sit just below Real Madrid and Barcelona in the CWC’s all-time table, and they will be looking to consolidate their position in the upper reaches when they travel to the United Arab Emirates this month.

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Five things to know about Monterrey…

  • In 2020, Monterrey became only the second Mexican club after Cruz Azul to complete the Treble, winning Liga MX, Copa MX and the CONCACAF Champions League.
  • Monterrey face record Egyptian champions Al Ahly in the second round on Saturday, a club whom they have previously eliminated twice from the CWC — in 2012 and 2013.
  • They are currently managed by former Atletico Madrid boss Javier Aguirre, who has also been around the international block, previously coaching Mexico (twice), Japan and Egypt.
  • Five players have scored for multiple clubs in the Club World Cup, one of whom, Neri Cardozo, did so for Boca Juniors and Monterrey — others include Dwight Yorke (Man Utd and Sydney), Ronaldinho (Barcelona and Atletico Mineiro), Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd and Real Madrid) and Tsukasa Shiotani (Sanfrecce Hiroshima and Al Ain).
  • Monterrey last competed in the CWC in 2019, where they finished third after getting knocked out by eventual winners Liverpool in the semi-finals, but beat Al-Hilal for a bronze medal.

More on the Club World Cup

Monterrey closing in on third-most CWC games

Monterrey have been a part of the Club World Cup furniture for many years now and they could confirm their status as outright regulars if they beat Al Ahly in the second round. Should they do so, then they will move into third on the list of clubs who have played the most CWC matches.

One player who has been a leading figure in Monterrey’s CWC ascent is former Argentina international Cesar Delgado, whose five goals in this competition makes him the third-highest all-time marksman. Only Cristiano Ronaldo (seven) and Gareth Bale (six) have netted more times than him.

The 40-year-old, who has finished as CWC top scorer on two occasions (2012 and 2013), famously helped Monterrey to successive Concacaf Champions Leagues, and he believes his former club not only boast a squad capable of mixing it with Europe’s best, but can actually go on to reach the final.

He told FIFA: “Monterrey are up there with the European teams.

“They’ve got experienced international players. They’re a very strong side and they could have a great tournament. Mexican football is on the up and Monterrey have a fantastic squad, the best in the country.

“If you’re up against a South American team, you’ve got more of a chance of making the final. It’s going to be tough, but opponents like them hold no surprises for Mexican teams. It’s a great opportunity and I feel Los Rayados can make the final.”

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A scare for Liverpool

In their previous CWC appearance, Monterrey faced eventual 2019 champions Liverpool in the semi-finals, and they nearly took Jurgen Klopp’s men to extra-time. Naby Keita broke the deadlock just after 10 minutes. Rogelio Funes Mori then responded instantly, but Roberto Firmino won the game in the 91st minute.

Club legend Nicolas Sanchez, who played the full 90 minutes in Qatar, remembers the match well, believing they had Liverpool “on their knees” before Firmino struck late on.

“We didn’t put pressure on ourselves that night,” he reflected.

“We knew we were up against the best team in Europe, but we also knew we could compete.

“We never felt they’d walk all over us. We gave as good as we got. It wasn’t enough, but we had Liverpool on their knees until the end of the game.”

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