Gerardo Flores (middle) in action for Cruz Azul in its 0-0 draw with Toluca in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League final series on April 15, 2014, in Mexico City. (Photo: Mexsport)
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Despite not securing a win against visiting Toluca in the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final, Cruz Azul is convinced that it will lift the trophy after the return match next Wednesday at the Estadio Nemesio Diez.
The numbers indicate seem to indicate, though, that La Maquina’s quest for a record-breaking sixth Confederation club title has become more problematic. Toluca is unbeaten in 12 of 13 all-time CCL matches at home, conceding more than one goal just once over that stretch. Plus, Cruz Azul has only a .500 winning percentage in 24 CCL road games.
Despite those statistics, midfielder Christian Gimenez doesn’t view Tuesday’s 0-0 draw as anything more than a half-time score of a 180-minute encounter.
“I think it was an equal match and the series is open,” said Gimenez, a member of Pachuca’s 2009-10 CCL-winning squad. “A second half remains, as we say, and it is a must to improve things and stay concentrated.”
One of the main figures for Cruz Azul in the final’s opener was goalkeeper Guillermo Allison, who filled in capably for the suspended Jesus Corona. Allison did not allow a goal in his fourth CCL appearance this season. He hopes to replicate that performance in the decider.
“The match in Toluca is going to be difficult, complicated,” the 23-year-old affirmed. “We know that we have to look for a result, but we are attentive and concentrated on doing that.”
Another point of optimism for Cruz Azul is the fact that since it posted a shutout at home, a 1-1 draw in Toluca would be enough to clinch the crown on the away-goals rule and seal a place at the FIFA Club World Cup.
“It is an advantage to have a draw with a goal,” said midfielder Gerardo Flores. “We are going to look for that goal that gives us a championship. “It can be won. We are aware and we are going to work hard to make that goal and be champions.”
Cruz Azul has lost two straight CCL away games, both by the same 1-0 score.