6 Things to Know About Monterrey, Liverpool’s FIFA Club World Cup Opponents

​Liverpool will take on Mexican side CF Monterrey in the semi-final of the Club World Cup, with one of either Flamengo or Al-Hilal waiting for the winner in the final.

Monterrey might come from a league which is widely regarded as the best in North America, but very little is known about the Liga MX – let alone the teams that play in it – across the Atlantic ocean in Europe.

But 90min have got you covered – so here’s a handful of things you’ll need to know about CF Monterrey ahead of their match against Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

No, Not That Funes Mori

Rogelio Funes Mori

Liverpool fans will see a familiar name, and somewhat of a familiar face too, when they line-up against Monterrey on Thursday as former Everton centre back Ramiro Funes Mori’s twin brother will be leading the line for the Mexican giants.

Rogelio, who had a two-year spell in Europe earlier in his career, has scored 94 goals in 184 appearances over the last four years for Monterrey – placing him second on the club’s all-time top scorers list, behind only Humberto Suazo (121).

The former Benfica and Eskisehirspor striker also has experience at international level with Argentina.

He made his debut for La Albicelestes under manager Alejandro Sabella, making a cameo appearance in a 2-1 defeat to Brazil where he played briefly alongside former Liverpool midfielder Maxi Rodríguez.

Funes Mori has scored in Monterrey’s last two matches – including a 95th-minute winner in their Apertura semi-final against Necaxa.

A Reunion for Virgil van Dijk

FIFA World Cup group A"Netherlands v Belarus"

Thursday’s opponents will be new for most of Liverpool’s players, but Virgil van Dijk could see one familiar face on the pitch in Netherlands international Vincent Janssen.

The 25-year-old joined Monterrey from Tottenham Hotspur in an £8m deal before the start of the season, where he’s gone on to score 10 goals across all competitions.

Janssen didn’t feature in Antonio Mohamed’s squad in their Club World Cup win over Al Sadd.

Monterrey’s Diamond in Midfield

Maximiliano Meza

Rodolfo Pizarro might be Monterrey’s most in-form playmaker this season, but Liverpool’s scouting department will be all too aware of the danger that Argentina international Maxi Meza poses in the final third.

The 27-year-old – he celebrated his birthday on December 15 – was heavily linked with a move to Inter in 2018, while a handful of clubs in Germany were also looking at the attacking midfielder last year.

Meza ended up leaving Club Atlético Independiente for Monterrey in a £12m in January, but he’s still got a point to prove for the club after being involved in just five goals in 50 appearances for Los Rayados.

CONCACAF Champions League Winners

Monterrey v Tigres UANL - CONCACAF Champions League 2019

Yes, Monterrey are in the Club World Cup. But how exactly did they qualify?

Liverpool made it to Qatar after winning European football’s biggest prize, while a Gabigol-inspired Flamengo produced an incredible late comeback in the Copa Libertadores to reach the competition.

For Monterrey, they beat Alianza Fútbol Club from El Salvidor before knocking out two MLS clubs to reach the final of the CONCACAF Champions League last season.

Up against domestic rivals Tigres – who’s squad includes the likes of André-Pierre Gignac, Enner Valencia and Eduardo Vargas – defender Nicolás Sánchez scored the only goal of the first leg to put Monterrey into a strong advantage.

Sánchez scored again in the second leg, and Monterrey were able to see out the game even after Gignac pulled one goal back for Tigres, booking their place in the Club World Cup.

Apertura Final

Rogelio Funes Mori

After finishing eighth in the league, Monterrey have found their way into the Liguilla Apertura final where they’ll once again face off against Tigres.

Mohamed’s side beat Santos Laguna and Necaxa to reach the Apertura final, scoring nine goals and conceding just four.

Although attention is currently on the Club World Cup, Monterrey will be back into the thick of it later this month with their first leg in the final against Tigres set to take place on December 27.

Their Second Ever Match Against an English Team

Cesar Delgado,Gary Cahill

It’s not all that common for clubs from different continents to play against each other in competitive matches, but Monterrey have played against an English side on one previous occasion – at the 2012 Club World Cup.

After beating Korean side Uslan in the quarter-finals, Monterrey were drawn up against Rafa Benitez’s Chelsea in the next stage of the competition.

Goals from Juan Mata and Fernando Torres either side of half-time put the game out of reach of Monterrey, while an own goal from Dárvin Chávez only added to their misery before Aldo de Nigris scored a late consolation goal.

Despite reaching the final, then European champions Chelsea actually went on to lose the to Brazilian side Corinthians after a goal from Paolo Guerrero.

So with just Monterrey standing in the way of Liverpool and a potential final against the reigning Copa Libertadores champions, Jürgen Klopp’s will be hoping that history doesn’t repeat itself in Qatar.

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