It's the Liga MX Apertura final that almost every neutral – and the city of Monterrey especially – was desperately hoping for.
Monterrey, which finished first in the regular season, is facing second-place finisher and crosstown rival Tigres in the final.
It's the first time Liga MX has ever seen a Clasico Regio final, and after a thrilling first leg ended with a 1-1 scoreline, it all will be decided Sunday.
|Game||Monterrey vs Tigres|
|Date||Sunday, December 10|
|Time||7:00 p.m. ET|
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SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Guzman, Palos, Fernandez, Ortega|
|Defenders||Kolodziejczak, Ayala, Juninho, Meza, Torres, Acosta, Jimenez, Estrada, Rodriguez|
|Midfielders||Carioca, Duenas, J. Torres, Vasquez, R. Torres, Zelarayan, Aquino, Quiñones, Alvarez, Sosa, Damm|
|Forwards||Valencia, Gignac, Vargas|
Center back and captian Juninho returned from an adductor injury to put in a quality showing in Thursday's first leg, but Tigres again will be out one of their usual central defenders.
Hugo Ayala was shown his second yellow card late in Thursday's contest and will miss the game. Francisco Meza replaced Juninho in the second leg against Club America and performed well, and could slot over to replace Ayala.
Potential starting XI: Guzman; Torres Nilo, Meza, Juninho, Rodriguez; Aquino, Duenas, Carioca, Vargas; Gignac, Valencia.
|Goalkeepers||Gonzalez, Carrizo, Resendez|
|Defenders||Montes, Basanta, Sanchez, Portales, Alvarez, Vangioni, Castillo, Fuentes, Medina, Juarez|
|Midfielders||Molina, Ortiz, Zavala, J. Gonzalez, Cardozo, Sanchez, Hurtado, A. Gonzalez|
Like Tigres, Rayados must deal with a mandated absence after Leonel Vangioni was sent off for two yellow cards in Thursday's first leg. Luis Fuentes is a direct replacement who may earn his first minutes since Nov. 4.
Rayados also could play with three center backs, bringing Cesar Montes back into the starting XI and using Fuentes and Stefan Medina as wing-backs something they deployed earlier this season in a victory over Club America.
Potential starting XI: Gonzalez; Fuentes, Basanta, Sanchez, Medina; Ortiz, Gonzalez, Sanchez; Pabon, Funes Mori, Hurtado.
They were the two best teams in the regular season, and Tigres and Monterrey entered the final with plenty of momentum after comprehensive victories in the semifinal.
The first leg didn't leave much between the two teams either, as Monterrey scored in the opening 10 minutes but allowed Tigres back in with a penalty.
After Enner Valencia's panenka, the match slowed thanks in part to worsening conditions as freezing rain pelted the ground on a nasty night.
Monterrey manager Antonio Mohamed was confident after the match, pointing to the fact that Monterrey is yet to lose at home this season.
That includes their 2-0 win over Tigres on the final day of the Apertura regular season on Nov. 19.
But while Tuca Ferretti admitted Monterrey's fans will be just as passionate Sunday as his own team's were Thursday, he also pointed out that the previous Liguilla saw Tigres beat Monterrey at home.
That stands as the last defeat Rayados have suffered at their home ground.
It's all on the table Sunday, with the Liga MX final going to extra time and penalties if one team can't break the deadlock.