MEXICO CITY – Estadio Azteca is an arena that produces much ilusión. But for the Montreal Impact, there are no illusions.
On Saturday, it was Querétaro who experienced the magic of the Azteca, defeating Club América 4-0 with two late goals from Ronaldinho. The Impact players and staff, in town for this Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League final first leg in which América will be their opponent (9 pm ET; Fox Sports 2, UniMas), were witnesses.
The severity of América’s defeat caught their attention, but it won’t be the basis of their preparation. A below-par performance like that, “it happens,” Montreal head coach Frank Klopas said. No one in Impact camp, starting with Klopas, is expecting a similar match.
“Regardless of outcome of [Saturday's] game, they’re going to be very motivated to play because it is a final,” Klopas told reporters on Sunday. “I don’t take too much away from the game from the other night. For me, some of the things I needed to see – because I’ve watched a lot of their games – I saw [on Saturday].
"But for sure, we have to expect a different team, a different mentality and approach on Wednesday.”
América were without Mexico forward Oribe Peralta against Querétaro. Klopas expects him to play Wednesday, and he’s preparing his team to face América’s best midfield line as well.
“They have some issues at the back because of the suspension to [Paolo] Goltz, and [Ventura] Alvarado with the yellow cards,” Klopas said. “But [Miguel] Samudio played, he’s very experienced, good left back. They have [Pablo] Aguilar, the right side guy. So it’s just with one center back, what they are going to do. But we know their team. I don’t think there’s going to be any surprises.”
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MLS has done the Impact the favor of postponing a couple of games to accommodate their travel schedule. For América, on the contrary, the games keep on coming.
América don’t need any more motivation on the eve of a final, but their upcoming schedule will force them to put “a lot of emphasis” on the first leg, Klopas argued.
“They have a difficult match before they come to Montreal,” he said. “They have to play against Chivas away, which is the big Clasico here. It’s going to be another difficult match before traveling. They’re human, but they’re a very good side, also. We have to be at our best.”
Added defender Laurent Ciman: “They’ll want to pressure us straightaway, score from the get-go. They’re playing in front of their crowd. They got whacked this weekend. They’ll want to make amends. It won’t be easy, we know that.”