Friday 20 December 2019, 15:33

Sanchez and Monterrey eye victorious 2019 finale

  • Monterrey take on Al Hilal in match for third place at Qatar 2019

  • Los Rayados hoping to cap historic year by winning bronze and Liga MX title

  • “We want to go back to Mexico with an even bigger smile”

Monterrey’s top scorer in the CONCACAF Champions League with four goals, Nico Sanchez did as much as anyone to fire the Mexicans into the FIFA Club World Cup Qatar 2019™.

Sanchez then led the Rayados defence with distinction in their opening match against Al Sadd and was in commanding form once again when they took on Liverpool. Showing his leadership, commitment and gift for anticipation, the centre-back did everything he had to do and did it well.

“We played a good match and I think we acquitted ourselves well against perhaps the best team in the world,” he said. “We were in with a chance of winning it right until the last minute.” And though Roberto Firmino’s stoppage-time strike ended the Mexican club’s dream of a place in the final, they still have goals to achieve at Qatar 2019.

🥉 All eyes on bronze

The big challenge facing Los Rayados now is to look ahead and envisage themselves returning home with bronze medals around their necks. Their chance to do that will come against an Al Hilal side featuring the likes of Bafetimbi Gomis and Sebastian Giovinco in Saturday’s match for third place.

“It’s a very important game for the club,” said Sanchez. “We want to go as high as we can at this Club World Cup. We’ll be taking the match just as seriously as we did against Al Sadd and Liverpool, and we want to win it so we can finish third and go home to our country with an even bigger smile.”

Though the result went against them in their meeting with Liverpool, Monterrey could be satisfied with their performance. Stressing the importance of that display, Sanchez, one of the veterans and leaders of the dressing room, said: “We have some youngsters who did so well that they must have been spotted by some big teams, who’ll be looking to come in for them now. That makes me proud. None of them were overawed or scared. They gave as good as they got.”

🤔 Did you know?

  • If Monterrey do finish third, they will equal their best ever performance in the competition, back in 2012, when they beat Al Ahly of Egypt 2-0.

Al Hilal are up next for Monterrey, and then come America in the Liga MX final. The CONCACAF champions are just three matches away from completing a truly impressive 2019, and Sanchez has a feeling the best is yet to come in these last few days of the year.

“It’s been an incredible 12 months,” he said. “It’s still not over, but we’ve done an amazing job. We don’t have the luxury of being able to stop and take stock of it all, but it’s been a good year. We just have to finish it off in the best way possible.”

And that means leaving the Club World Cup with a bronze medal.