Midfielder Christian Gimenez shapes as Cruz Azul’s key player ahead of the first leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final against Toluca.
The 33-year-old scored in Cruz Azul’s last game before Tuesday’s first leg – a 2-2 draw against Pachuca in Liga MX – and has an impressive scoring record versus Toluca.
Gimenez has hit the back of the net in three of his team’s past five clashes with Toluca for a record of three wins, one draw and one loss.
The veteran has scored in the past two fixtures between the two clubs, producing the winner in Cruz Azul’s 1-0 league triumph in March and converting a penalty in a 1-1 draw in December.
Cruz Azul are attempting to become the first club to win the CONCACAF Champions League – and its predecessor the Champions Cup – six times, while Toluca will be playing for their third title.
Recent form suggests Cruz Azul will have a lead when they head to Toluca next week, as the capital club have not lost at home to their rivals since 2009.
In fact, since that loss, Toluca have only won one other match between the two clubs when they thrashed Cruz Azul 3-0 in November.
Toluca will enter the first leg at the Estadio Azul two points behind their hosts on the domestic front.
Cruz Azul sit on top of the Liga MX table with 33 points but Toluca did move within striking distance of the leaders on Sunday with a 2-1 victory over Leon.
Toluca reached their first continental final since 2003 with a 3-0 aggregate victory over Costa Rica’s Alajuelense, while Cruz Azul trumped another Mexican club Tijuana 2-1.
Raul Nava will be the main man for Toluca as the 23-year-old striker leads the CONCACAF Champions League goal-scoring charts with seven, although he has not found the back of the net in four matches.
Toluca’s winger Edgar Benitez is equal sixth with three goals, while Cruz Azul’s Mariano Pavone and Achille Emana both have four.
Cruz Azul last won the continental competition in 1997 but have missed out in Copa Libertadores (2001) and CONCACAF Champions League (2009 and 2010) finals since.