Action from the August 22, 2013, CONCACAF Champions League game between host Cruz Azul (left) and Herediano on August 22, 2013, at the Estadio Azul in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
HEREDIA, Costa Rica – After an inspection by confederation officials last week, the newly-renovated lighting system at the Estadio Eladio Rosabal Cordero was approved. The determination will allow Herediano (2-0-1, 6 points) to welcome Cruz Azul (3-0-0, 9 points) into its own stadium, when the two sides meet on Tuesday to decide the Group 3 winner and the resulting CONCACAF Champions League (CCL) quarterfinal place.
Over the years, the Florenses have contested their nine all-time home CCL encounters at various venues throughout Costa Rica, evenly split between Heredia, the Estadio Nacional in San Jose and Alajuela’s Estadio Alejandro Morera Soto Scotiabank. They have accumulated a 5-1-3 record as host with one of those defeats coming at the hands of Cruz Azul (6-2) on July 30, 2009 (Herediano’s first-ever CCL game).
The present Group 3 scenario for Cruz Azul could not be more clear: it will win the group with only a draw against Herediano. In fact, La Maquina could lose, as long as it was by two or fewer goals, and still top the table.
For Herediano, the task is a certainly more daunting. It needs to win 3-0 to level both teams on all of the head-to-head tiebreakers, but will then progress by virtue of a superior goal difference in all group matches.
Cruz Azul, a five-time CONCACAF club champion, extended its unbeaten streak in Mexican Apertura play to five games after a huge 1-1 draw on Saturday with first-place Club America. Colombian Luis Perea’s 70th minute goal canceled out a strike by Luis Gabriel Rey just before the interval.
In three previous CCL appearances, the Mexico City-based side has never failed to emerge from the group stage.
Herediano now sits second in the Costa Rica Torneo Invierno standings following a 3-2 loss to host Santos de Guapiles on Saturday. Despite dropping a second straight domestic-league game, the Rojiamarillos can extract confidence from the fact that they are unbeaten in five consecutive CCL home games (4-1-0).
NOTES: In three previous CCL meetings, Cruz Azul has never lost to Herediano (2-1-0)…Cruz Azul defeated Herediano in their first during this edition of the CCL, 3-0, on goals by Jair Pereira, Mariano Pavone and Gerardo Torrado.