After rolling through the previous regular season, Monterrey has struggled to get into gear this year.
Antonio Mohamed's men bring a 4-2-3 record into the ninth week of league play after last year's defeat in the Liga MX final. Still, Rayados sit third in the table and are within striking distance of the summit.
Standing in their way is the league's most surprising team, Puebla.
Enrique "Ojos" Meza's squad has 14 points from nine matches and is unbeaten in its last three league matches. Can the hot streak continue or will it fall victim to a Monterrey team that is dominant at the Estadio BBVA Bancomer?
|Game||Monterrey vs Puebla|
|Date||Saturday, March 3|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Stream (US only)||fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
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SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||H. Gonzalez, Carrizo, Resendez|
|Defenders||Montes, Basanta, Sanchez, Portales, Vasquez, Alvarez, Vangioni, Velarde, Medina, Juarez|
|Midfielders||Molina, Ortiz, Zavala, J. Gonzalez, Amaya, Sanchez, A. Gonzalez, Urretaviscaya, Hurtado|
|Forwards||Funes Mori, Pabon, Benitez, Villa, Cruz|
Rayados midfielder Jonathan Urretaviscaya missed the team's contest with Atlas and won't feature Saturday. Leonel Vangioni also will miss out with a leg muscle issue.
Jonathan Gonzalez left that game with a knock but was fit enough to enter the midweek cup match as a substitute.
Potential starting XI: Gonzalez; Medina, Sanchez, Basanta, Velarde; Sanchez, Gonzalez, Ortiz; Hurtado, Pabon, Funes Mori
|Goalkeepers||Munoz, Villasenor, Rodriguez|
|Defenders||Angulo, Gutierrez, Venegas, Rojas, Pimentel, Zamora, Rodriguez, Mondragon, Santamaria|
|Midfielders||Araujo, Escoboza, Acuna, Micolta, Marrugo, Guerrero, Torres, Enriquez, Tabo, Chumacero|
|Forwards||Cavallini, Fernandez, Carreno|
Defender Oscar Rojas is out for another three or four weeks because of a hamstring tear.
Potential starting XI: Munoz; Rodriguez, Zamora, Santamaria, Angulo; Ribeiro, Marrugo, Guerrero, Chumacero, Acuna; Cavallini
Few experts would have predicted that Puebla's visit to Monterrey would be one of the most exciting matches of Jornada 10 of the Liga MX season. Yet, it's one of only two matchups this weekend between a pair of teams in the playoff places.
Enrique Meza's Puebla has taken everyone by surprise, riding a staunch defense to a strong opening to the season for a team that hasn't hadn't had one in quite some time. Puebla has conceded eight goals and kept a clean sheet on three occasions.
That will be tougher against Monterrey. Though Rayados aren't scoring at the same remarkable pace they were last season, they still have 14 goals so far this tournament. Alfonso Gonzalez has been the surprise key to the Rayados attack, though the forward trident of Aviles Hurtado, Dorlan Pabon and Rogelio Funes Mori is no easier to contain than it was last season.
Still, Monterrey has had an uneven start by its very high standards. A 3-0 loss to Necaxa two weeks ago was uncharacteristic and there are nights the team still looks to be shaking off its loss last tournament in the finals.
Those issues even have popped up at home. While the finals defeat to Tigres is the last loss Monterrey had in the Estadio BBVA Bancomer, Tijuana and Cruz Azul both have emerged with a point. Antonio Mohamed has had to get creative with his lineups after a handful of injuries to key players. How he chooses to replace injured left back Leonel Vangioni will go a long way to determining how the team performs and if they can ward off upstart Puebla to get three points at home.