• Tuesday Apr 20, 2010

    Cruz Azul, Pachuca clash for region supremacy

    By Gerardo Martínez Gómez

    For Cruz Azul, it's a chance to seize what barely eluded its grasp last year. For Pachuca, the CONCACAF Champions League finals offer another opportunity to return to the Club World Cup, and prove it can get past the first round.

    With the first leg set for Wednesday in Mexico City, both have plenty of motivation.

    In 2007 and 2008, Pachuca won the last editions of the CONCACAF Champions Cup, qualified for the Club World Cup but went home after the first round. This year "los Tuzos" are anxious to reach the tournament once again and break the curse.

    Pachuca's coach Guillermo Rivarola has decided to focus on the CONCACAF Champions League and thus is expected to call on his regular first 11 on Wednesday, having recently rested his best for league matches. However, Pachuca will be without top defender Paúl Águilar, who is training with the Mexican national team in preparation for the World Cup.

    Forward Damián Álvarez, who was part of Pachuca's two CONCACAF Champions Cup title teams as well as its subsequent first-round exits from the Club World Cup, hopes this time will be different.

    When it comes to Cruz Azul, the team's objective is remains the same following the team's lack of success in finals in recent years."Statistics and numbers can tell you part of the story, but once the game starts it all becomes part of the past," said Alvarez, known as La Chilindrina. "We know the match will tough because Cruz Azul has a very competitive team but we are fully focused on winning the Champions League."

    Defender Horacio Cervantes is sure that his team will do what it takes to change the team's recent inability to win a final. "La Máquina" has lost four finals since 2008- three in the Mexican first division and last year's Champions League final against fellow Mexican club Atlante.

    "We have a lot of confidence. The fans deserve a championship and we now have a chance to win one in front of us," he said. "This is a new opportunity for us and I hope that the team can put forth its best effort in the upcoming two games."

    Matches between Cruz Azul and Pachuca are often special, especially because of the close relationship between the two team's executives. The relationship has allowed Christian Giménez, Fausto Pinto and Joel Huiqui to go from Pachuca to Cruz Azul, while current Tuzo Juan Carlos Cacho arrived from Cruz Azul several seasons back.

    Both teams are desperate to shake their own personal demons: Cruz Azul hopes to leave its status behind as the Mexican league's eternal runner-up, and Pachuca dreams of putting its pair of first-round Club World Cup eliminations behind it and become the first Mexican club to win a world championship.

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