The Rayados del Monterrey will have on Wednesday the opportunity to become the first Mexican team to qualify for the final of the Club World Cup, but to do so will have to achieve something that no one has achieved in the Premier League in almost a year: defeat IngLiverpool.
Since the Reds lost to Manchester City on 3 January, they have not fallen again in the English tournament.
Liverpool are clear about their goal in the Premier League, after last season they failed to reach the title by being one point below City, despite achieving a streak of 13 wins and 4 draws in the second part of the season.
For this season, out of 17 matches played, the Reds have managed 16 wins and only one draw. That allows Anfield’s premier steers to lead the Premier League with a ten-point lead over Leicester and be closer than ever to a title that has been holding back since 1990.
With this level of play and mentality, the Champions League champion will face the Mexican squad.
But despite having these numbers, Liverpool manager Jargen Klopp turned down as a favourite to win the semi-final: «I’m an optimistic person, but that doesn’t mean we think we’ve already won the match (…) We’re not here to show off, but for football, and we’ll try to prove it, but it’s going to be hard.»
At a pre-duel press conference, which will be held at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, the German coach showed his «maximum respect for Monterrey».
‘They haven’t lost in the last few games and they’re in a good time. They have a definite game plan, good players, good technically (…) They play very good football,» Klopp added.
Casualties in the ‘net’ defense
Despite travelling with full team, the German coach will not be able to count on basic players in Liverpool’s defensive scheme: power stations Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren; brazilian midfielder Fabinho, and defender Virgil Van Dijk considered the best in the world and who presents muscle discomfort.
Dutchman Georginio Wijnaldum, who regularly supplies Fabinho, is also injured by what could be Guinean Naby Keita in charge of covering these casualties.
Those who will not miss the appointment, except for a technical decision, will be the offensive trident composed of the Brazilian Roberto Firmino, the Egyptian, Mohamed Salah and the Senegalese Sadio Mané.
Stripes goes «without fear but with respect»
Faced with the offensive power of the Reds, Antonio Mohamed, Monterrey coach, could give entry in the starting eleven to players with more international experience than those who defeated Al Sadd (3-2), such as the Argentines José Basanta, Maximiliano Meza or even the veteran Miguel Layún who has two world cups from tennis to football in addition to having played in the Premier Legue, with Watford.
What surely won’t change Celtic’s ex-tech is the style of play that has led his team to the opening final against America.
«We come to win the match with our essence and our weapons. The main idea is to constantly search for the rival arch,» said the ‘Turkish’ on Tuesday at a press conference.
Mohamed called Liverpool «the best team in the world,» although he clarified, «we’re not afraid of him, yes I respect him.»
The players of Rayados are aware that a triumph against Liverpool, as well as surprising, would be historic: never a European team has missed the final of the Club World Cup and never the CONCACAF representative came this high in this tournament.
And this same season, Napoli have already shown that Anfield’s are not unbeatable, defeating them 2-0 in the first match of the Champions League group stage.
The match between Monterrey and Liverpool is scheduled for Wednesday at 11:30 am Mexico time and will be broadcast on Fox Sports.
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