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Monterrey to win
This should be another top match between two of the best Liga MX this season. Pachuca will go into this match as the clear favorites after beating Monterrey 5-2 in the first-leg but there were some obvious turning points in that game, which led to this score-line, with Erick Aguirre’s red card in the 64th minute being the biggest.
Monterrey play at home this time, however, which should add a different dynamic to this tie. Pachuca started the match with the right intent, and were rewarded with a goal from a corner nine minutes in. No one seemed to have picked up Nicolas Ibanez at the far post, who was free to tap the first goal home.
Monterrey started to fashion some chances right after and replied seven minutes later with Hector Moreno scoring a header. Romain Ibarra got one back for Pachuca in the 23rd minute to give them the lead for the second time in the match. The Monterrey defenders could’ve done better for this goal.
Luis Romo leveled the scores just before half-time. It was a pulsating first-half and the second half didn’t start any differently. Paulino de Fuenta gave Pachuca the lead for the third time in the match just two minutes into the second half. It was still a fairly tight game before Erick Aguirre’s studs-up challenge changed the dynamic of the game.
Monterrey did well to not concede anything for the next 20 minutes. They even earned a penalty in the 80th minute but Funes Mori’s effort was saved by the goalkeeper. To make matters worse, they conceded a penalty five minutes later.
Unlike Funes Mori, Nicolas Ibanez made no mistake and buried his effort to kill the game. He got his hat-trick two minutes into the 90. Monterrey’s mistakes were self-inflicted, but they can’t head into the next game with too many regrets. They’ll just have to take the lessons and approach the second-leg as a different tie.
Pachuca can’t take their opponents too lightly either. Conceding a penalty despite having a man advantage is not a good look. There are many reasons to believe Monterrey will win the second-leg but they’re unlikely to make it to the final.
One of the advantages Monterrey has over Pachuca is the head-to-head record. Monterrey have won 12 of the 26 ties between the two sides. Pachuca have come out on top nine times with seven matches ending in a draw.
Pachuca and Monterrey had faced each other earlier in the month as well. That game, unlike the first-leg, ended in a 0-0 draw. Another thing to note in the last game is that besides the score-line, most of the stats were quite even. Monterrey had 51% of the possession, in fact. They took 14 shots compared to Pachuca’s 19 with the former getting 8 shots on target and the latter managing 5 on target.
Monterrey ended the league season in second place with 35 points, three behind Club America. Monterrey haven’t lost a lot of games at home this season, which will be crucial heading into this fixture. All they need is a little momentum and the crowd will do the rest.
Rodrigo Aguirre has been the star man for the side with 9 goals and 1 assist. German Berterame hasn't done too badly with seven goals and three assists. Maximiliano Meza has registered four assists and three goals. If they are going to make it to the Liga MX Apertura finals, the three of them will have to play out of their skin.
No team conceded fewer goals than Monterrey’s 13 goals. They can’t afford to concede any goals in this game. They will be quietly confident that they have got the rearguard to put a stop to any team and Pachuca won’t score them despite the first leg.
They didn’t look like their usual resolute selves in the last match but that strong defensive record can play into the minds of the opposition team as well. If Monterrey get an early goal, they can bide their time for the second. But they need to make sure that they aren’t leaky at the back.
Pachuca just have to be competitive to make it through to the finals. They had a good league season, finishing in fourth place, and there’s an argument to be made that they should’ve maybe even been higher. Their expected goals value was quite high, around 2.30 goals per game, according to the metric.
Nicolas Ibanez has had a great season and the hat-trick in the last match was well-deserved for his efforts all season. Victor Guzman has also played well with 6 goals and 3 assists in the league. One of the question marks around the side was with respect to their finishing and it’s extremely important to be at your clinical best. They did that in the last game and will have to do the same in this match.
They are unlikely to get as many chances as they’re used to in this tie as Monterrey will be aware that they can’t let Pachuca have any easy chances, but the chances will come and when they do, the likes of Ibanez and Guzman will have to find the target.
Pachuca have got a win rate under 50% away from home but their underlying numbers are even better on the road with an expected goals value away from home of 2.30. The sample size is large enough to suggest that for whatever reason, their finishing leaves a lot to be desired in these away games. It’s perhaps the hostile atmosphere.
The team can’t let that distract them from the job at hand. They need to go into this match knowing that they’ve got one foot in the final, and even if they miss a few chances, just make sure that they don’t lose their composure. They couldn’t have asked for anything better than a three-goal lead heading into a semi-final second-leg. They now have to get the job done.
|Teams||Monterrey vs Pachuca|
|Time||Sunday, October 23 at 8:06 pm ET onwards|
|How to watch||Univision networks TUDN and UniMas, ESPN Deportes, Telemundo and Fox Deportes|
With an interest in strategy and mathematics, applying that to sports writing was the natural progression. A writer at night and the founder of a gaming company, Nikhil’s previous experience includes working with ESPN for five years. His specialization includes soccer, basketball, tennis, and esports betting. Email: [email protected]More info on Nikhil Kalro
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