Monterrey v Liverpool: Mexicans out to prove nothing is impossible

Antonio Mohamed labelled Liverpool as "maybe the best team in the world" but believes his Monterrey side can topple the English giants.
Antonio Mohamed labelled Liverpool as "maybe the best team in the world" but believes his Monterrey side can topple the English giants.

Monterrey coach Antonio Mohamed insisted "nothing is impossible" as his side set out to stun Liverpool in the Club World Cup semi-finals.

UEFA Champions League winners Liverpool are heavy favourites to life the Club World Cup for the first time, having been beaten by Sao Paulo in the final back in 2005.

The Reds will be expected to breeze past Monterrey and into the final, but Mohamed is full of belief his team can pull off a seismic upset.

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Since Mohamed returned for a second spell in charge in October, Monterrey have not lost a game and are in the final of Liga MX's Apertura tournament - they will contest a two-legged final with Club America this month.

"We have a big ambition to play against Liverpool and we came to compete strongly at this mega-tournament," Mohamed said. "Jurgen Klopp is one of the best managers and Liverpool is maybe the best team in the world right now.

"We have made a huge effort to reach this stage and have come to compete, irrespective of which team or manager we are facing.

"We came here to play and win the match with our weapons.

"We didn't come to participate in this tournament and let Liverpool win against us. Nothing is impossible in football."

Klopp, meanwhile, has significant respect for the threat of Monterrey, having been impressed by the level of football in Mexico following a close-season trip to the country.

Asked about Monterrey by a Mexican journalist at his pre-match media conference in Doha, Klopp said: "I visited your country in the summer, it was my first time in Mexico, it was brilliant.

"We saw them of course and we know about the coach [who] came back and the situation in the league. Since then they didn't lose a game, so they are in a pretty good moment.

"They have a specific way of playing, good players, technically good players. It's just interesting, it's slightly different but, how you can imagine, I don't want to talk too much about tactical stuff because that's the thing we try either way to do or to avoid.

"I was impressed by the things I saw, it was really good football, I always imagined that. Everybody knew a lot of Mexican footballers played in Europe, not only Hugo Sanchez but maybe it started with him.

"They have brilliant footballers – all creative, technical-wise really good. The influence from the south, I would say, pretty emotional, all that stuff, all in involved, that's how it should be. It will be really interesting. We are full of respect for Monterrey and looking forward to the game."

Players to watch

Monterrey - Jonathan Gonzalez

The Bay Area-born midfielder changed his allegiance from United States to Mexico in 2018 and already has three caps for El Tri at the age of 20. Playing in front of the back four in Monterrey's 4-2-3-1, he will likely be tasked with serving as a deep-lying playmaker and with helping to stop the rapid counters on which Liverpool are so dangerous. A huge test for a talented young player.

Liverpool - Virgil van Dijk

With Joel Matip (knee) and Dejan Lovren (muscular problem) not in Qatar because of injury, Liverpool have just two senior centre-backs at their disposal in Van Dijk and Joe Gomez. Van Dijk did not train on Monday, though Klopp insisted his absence was not injury related. He was back with the team for Tuesday's session, and Liverpool will need him to avoid adding to their worries in defence, with 18-year-old Neco Williams the primary deputy behind Van Dijk and Gomez.

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