The past
After having flirted with relegation in the 1990s, Monterrey's recent return to the forefront of Mexican football has been enthusiastically welcomed by their fans. Following a restructuring of the club in 2000, Los Rayados have experienced something of a golden era over the past decade, securing the Clausura championship in 2003 and the Apertura titles in 2009 and 2010, the latter two coming under the guidance of Victor Manuel Vucetich. Their 2009 crown gave them the opportunity to compete in the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League, a tournament in which the Mexican side went on to claim victory, qualifying them in turn for the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time in their history.

The present
With several key players at the peak of their careers, participating in the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2011 will be a welcome reward for the consistency and teamwork demonstrated in recent times by the Nueva Leon-based club. The core of their squad having remained practically unchanged during this period, Monterrey's players have developed an excellent understanding on the pitch, and have tended to favour a more collective approach rather than one built around specific individuals. Team spirit and organisation will represent the principal assets of this well-balanced side in the Land of the Rising Sun.

The future
"Due to the huge effort put in by our players, we achieved one of our long-term goals," explained Vucetich, whose coaching style is founded on building player confidence and creating a positive atmosphere within the squad. "We will treat this competition with the utmost seriousness and do our best to bring the cup back home with us," added the Mexican tactician.


Qualifying statistics
Monterrey excelled during the group phase of the 2010/11 CONCACAF Champions League, collecting 16 points from a possible 18. They won five of their six matches, and drew at Costa Rican outfit Deportivo Saprissa – traditionally a tough place to get a result – in the other. After dispatching Toluca in the quarter-finals courtesy of two tight 1-0 victories, they eliminated another Mexican representative, Cruz Azul, at the semi-final stage, winning 3-2 on aggregate. This set up a final with MLS side Real Salt Lake, and following a 2-2 first-leg draw in Monterrey, the Mexicans pulled off a vital 1-0 triumph in Utah to take the title and send their fans into raptures.

The numbers game
0.66 – The average number of goals per game conceded by Monterrey on their way to claiming the Champions League title, a campaign during which their goalkeeper was beaten just eight times in 12 matches. Los Rayados' defensive record in the group stage of the tournament – 4 goals conceded in 6 games – was the strongest of all competing teams.