Action from the Liga MX Clausura game between host Cruz Azul (right) and Toluca on March 1, 2014. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY -- Whether it’s the Mexican Clausura or the CONCACAF Champions League, there’s very little that separates Cruz Azul and Toluca.
Before continuing with the pursuit for domestic glory, they meet in the CONCACAF Champions League final with the first leg on Tuesday at the Estadio Azul.
Although this is the fifth All-Mexican final in the six-year history of the reformatted competition, this is their first CCL encounter and neither has lifted the trophy yet. Cruz Azul has lost in each of its previous two finals appearances – to Atlante (2008-09) and Pachuca (2009-10) – while Toluca is making its championship debut.
The winner advances to December’s FIFA Club World Cup in Morocco.
“It is a match that we are worried about more in making the Club World Cup than avenging anything,” said Cruz Azul goalkeeper Guillermo Allison, who is expected to fill-in for the suspended Jesus Corona.
Cruz Azul was a perfect 4-0-0 in the group stage to earn the No. 2 seed in the knockout phase. La Maquina defeated Sporting Kansas City (5-2 agg) in the quarterfinals before rallying to overcome Club Tijuana (2-1 agg) in the semifinals.
Toluca was also posted an unblemished group-stage recod, earning the top seed in the championship stage on goal difference. It beat the San Jose Earthquakes (2-2 agg) on penalties (5-4) in the quarterfinals and defeated Alajuelense (3-0 agg), in the semifinals.
Though the Red Devils have never defeated a Mexican foe in four CCL outings, Allison fully expects a very difficult challenge.
“[Toluca] has a great offense and a great goalkeeper in Talavera, a national team goalkeeper,” said the 23-year-old. “The truth is that they have us attentive, very concentrated. We know that they create a lot of danger.”
Allison also expressed his appreciation to the Cruz Azul supporters and pledged that the team will do its best to make them happy.
“We owe a great deal to the fans, the institution and with all the people who support Cruz Azul, we know they are anxious for Cruz Azul to be champion,” he finished. “So the truth is that we want to give the best of ourselves in this match to give them joy.”
In their 2014 Clausura meeting on March 1, Cruz Azul topped visiting Toluca, 1-0, on 79th minute goal by Christian Gimenez.