CF Montréal enjoyed a hugely positive result in their Concacaf Champions League Round of 16 series, taking a 3-1 aggregate victory over Liga MX side Santos Laguna.

Now, a whole new challenge awaits in the CCL quarterfinals, which the Canadian side enters Wednesday with a massive Leg 1 fixture against another Liga MX foe in Cruz Azul (10 pm ET | FS2, TUDN).

While Santos Laguna are languishing near the bottom of the Liga MX table, Cruz Azul are currently in fifth place and boast one of Concacaf's most formidable home-field advantages in Estadio Azteca.

"It's a different team," Montréal defender Alistair Johnston said on Tuesday. "Obviously we knew that Santos was struggling to start the year, so Cruz Azul is obviously in a different place, a really strong team. I'm not saying that Santos isn't, but it's almost a different beast altogether.

"Obviously playing at the Azteca, it's a different atmosphere than any other I've played in before. It truly is something that you need to have played in to really understand. The altitude plays a huge factor. Obviously playing in front of a crowd, they really know how to make that place loud and it's such a historic stadium. You walk in there and you can instantly feel, you can just sense the history and number of matches and all-time great players throughout history that have played on this pitch."

Whatever struggles Santos are enduring, CF Montréal bounced back in resounding fashion in the second leg following a 1-0 hole, pouring on three goals from Romell Quioto, Djordje Mihailovic and Ismael Kone.

"I think it's massive just realizing that no matter what happens down in that first leg that we can come back and compete. Especially at home, we feel really confident we can get a result," Johnston said. "I think that goes a long way, exactly that. Santos obviously, coming back after a hard-fought first leg, going down 1-0 and coming back and showing the rest of Concacaf: We do mean business, we can compete with Mexican teams. Getting a huge result in that second leg, it really takes the pressure off.

"Especially being a younger group, we go into these [and] you can definitely get carried away with the moment. But I think now this has really grounded us and given this group a sense of, we belong here."

The positive CCL result comes in contrast to CF Montréal's lackluster start in MLS play, dropping their first two league matches to Orlando City SC and the Philadelphia Union.

A road match at Estadio Azteca presents a formidable challenge in correcting that form, but head coach Wilfried Nancy said his group is embracing the challenge of the high-stakes matchup.

"What I want to see is my team play the way we usually play, knowing that we're going to have bad moments, knowing that playing against a Mexican team is going to be difficult," Nancy said. "We know that because the tendency of the Mexican teams is being really aggressive. They try to press, they try to play with a high level of intensity. We'll have to match the intensity and we're going to have to be [focused] when they have the ball. We know if we have the ball, we have the possibility to do something good.

"We have to be stronger than the last couple of games, but we need to play our game," Nancy added. "This is going to be my message for the players. We know the context is going to be difficult, yes, but play our game, play the way we play and try to match the intensity."