It all comes down to this—Cruz Azul will meet America for the second leg of the Liga MX final on Sunday. Cruz Azul holds a 1-0 lead on aggregate after winning at home on Thursday evening, but it now faces the difficult task of holding onto that lead at America's vaunted home digs, Estadio Azteca.
Christian Giménez scored the first leg's only goal in the 19th minute off a header from a Pablo Barrera corner. America was a bit unlucky in the loss, as the team held 59 percent of possession, earned 13 corners to Cruz Azul's six and put six shots on goal compared to just three from the home side.
But that's soccer, folks—the team that bosses the game doesn't always win it. Still, America will have to like its chances playing at home, especially after beating Cruz Azul 3-0 at Estadio Azteca on March 3.
But Cruz Azul did beat America at Azteca a month later on penalties in the Copa MX Clausura, and the visitors have now won nine of their last 10 matches, so they come into the second leg on their best form of the season.
This one should be fun. Let's preview the second leg of the Liga MX final.
When: Sunday, May 26 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
Cruz Azul Player to Watch: Pablo Barrera
While Cruz Azul will have to play solid defense and will need a huge effort from keeper Jose de Jesus Corona, Barrera's performance on the right wing will be key. If he is able to widen the play and force America's three-man defense to to slide his way or stretch horizontally, he should open up channels for Cruz Azul's attackers to exploit centrally.
Barrera has been very solid this season, with a goal and nine assists in league play. Keep a close eye on the Mexico international in this one.
America Player to Watch: Christian Benitez
Benitez has been fabulous for America this season, with 17 goals and five assists in 22 league appearances. With America trailing in this tie, the striker will once again need to be a driving force on the attack.
Benitez is a classic poacher able to score goals in a number of ways, from heading home crosses to positioning himself in scoring positions for his teammates to find him. And he's especially deadly when the ball finds his feet in the box, as he is able to maneuver in tight spaces and quickly release powerful shots.
He's been clinical for the club once again this season, and he's the most dangerous man Cruz Azul will have to deal with on the evening.
Cruz Azul is the hotter team and hold the advantage, but America bossed the first game and has more talent throughout. At the always intimidating Estadio Azteca, it's hard to see America losing. It won't, defeating Cruz Azul 2-0.