Two of the top four teams in Liga MX meet this weekend, with Monterrey traveling to face leader Cruz Azul.
Neither has mathematically qualified for the eight-team Liguilla, but with Cruz Azul sitting atop the table and Rayados in fourth, it seems to be a when, not if, proposition for both.
Yet, each aspire to more, looking to end title droughts. A win on Saturday would get them three points closer to home-field advantage and help convince fans that this year could be the one in which everything changes.
|Game||Cruz Azul vs Monterrey|
|Date||Saturday, October 6|
|Time||6 p.m. ET|
TV Channel, Live Stream & How To Watch
In the United States, the game can be watched live and on-demand with fuboTV (7-day free trial).
New users can sign up for a free seven-day trial of the live sports streaming service, which can be accessed via iOS, Android, Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, Roku and Apple TV as well as on a web browser.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|Univision Deportes Network||fubo TV (7-day free trial)|
Squads & Team News
|Position||Cruz Azul players|
|Goalkeepers||Corona, Allison, Pelaez|
|Defenders||Aguilar, Dominguez, Lichnovsky, Flores, Aldrete, Sanchez, Maduena, Silva|
|Midfielders||Salas, Montoya, Hernandez, Mendez, Dominguez, Mena, Baca, Marcona, Alvarado|
|Forwards||Cauteruccio, Caraglio, Renteria, Zuniga|
Suspensions for Jose Maduena and Milton Caraglio after both were sent off in last week's 3-1 loss to Pachuca leave Pedro Caixinha with decisions to make - mainly at the back. With Gerry Flores still out with an injury, he'll decide if he wants to break up the Pablo Aguilar-Julio Dominguez center-back partnership to put one of them at right back or toss in Igor Lichnovsky, also typically a center back, on the right side.
Up front, he could go with one forward up top, perhaps Martin Cauteruccio, with Edgar Menez, Roberto Alvarado and Elias Hernandez behind him, or he could stick with a 4-4-2 and use Cauteruccio alongside a player who typically plays deeper like Andres Renteria or Walter Montoya.
Potential Cruz Azul XI: Corona; Lichnovsky, Aguilar, Dominguez, Aldrete; Hernandez, Marcone, Baca, Alvarado; Cauteruccio, Renteria
|Goalkeepers||Barovero, Carrizo, Resendez|
|Defenders||Montes, Sanchez, Gutierrez, Vangioni, Basanta, Vasquez, Medina|
|Midfielders||A. Gonzalez, Ortiz, Gallardo, Molina, J. Gonzalez, Rodriguez|
|Forwards||Funes Mori, Pabon, Urretaviscaya, Hurtado, Madrigal, Pizarro|
After a big win over Xolos, Diego Alonso may not make any changes to the squad he utilized last weekend. The Rayados boss went with a 5-3-2- alignment with Dorlan Pabon and Rogelio Funes Mori up top as Aviles Hurtado continues to work back to full fitness. The Colombian forward could make the trip to the capital as a potential substitute.
Potential Monterrey XI: Barovero; Medina, Molina, Sanchez, Montes, Vangioni; J. Gonzalez, Ortiz, Gallardo; Pabon, Funes Mori
Cruz Azul is atop the Liga MX table heading into the weekend, but it has been riding its luck and may not have any good fortune against Monterrey.
Two players who have become typical starters, Jose Maduena and Milton Caraglio, will miss the match against Monterrey because of red cards they were issued last week against Pachuca. The 3-1 loss suffered against Tuzos can be dismissed since it came with La Maquina down to 10 men, but the team's first defeat of the season against Necaxa and a few draws have shown cracks in the new-look Cruz Azul.
Those adverse results, however, all were suffered on the road. In the Estadio Azteca, Cruz Azul has won all six of the matches played, scoring 14 goals and allowing just one. With defensive modifications required this week thanks to Maduena's suspension, it will be a challenge to keep up that pace.
Rayados came back strong from a disappointing draw in the Clascio Regio, thrashing Tijuana 3-0 last week on a water-logged pitch in Monterrey. Despite star scorer Aviles Hurtado remaining out with an injury, they've found a way to score goals, and consecutive clean sheets using a three center backs have Rayados showing signs of the balanced team they were during the Antonio Mohamed era.
The last four matches between these clubs have ended in a draw, and there may not be much between them this time around either. It should be an enjoyable contest and could even end up being a playoff preview.