The ‘Diablos rojos’, the Red Devils, are at home 65 kilometres west of Mexico City in the city of Toluca with a population of 500,000. Deportivo Toluca FC have played a big part in the history of Mexican football: After being founded 105 years ago, the club was one of the founding members of the nationwide second division – the start of the success story for the central Mexican side.
The team with the red kit achieved promotion to the Primera Division, now called the Liga Clausura MX, just three years after entering the league. Toluca have remained in the top flight since then. In addition to finishing runners-up in 1957 and 1958 they achieved the long-awaited triumph in 1967: Deportivo were crowned champions of Mexico.
The Red Devils then went one better: Toluca defended their national title in the following season and also won the CONCACAF Champions Cup – to become the best team on the whole continent. Another league title followed in 1975 but then the fans had to wait a while for the next big success.
The late 1990s and the early 2000s are seen as the best years in the club’s history – and they are known today as the ‘época dorada’, the golden age. Toluca picked up titles like no other rival: Five league titles plus another cup triumph at the continental level came up to 2003. Further triumphs in 2005, 2008 and 2010 saw a brilliant decade completed with ‘La Décima’ – the tenth league title.
Toluca are the third most successful club in Mexico behind record champions Club América (13) and CD Guadalajara (12). But the Red Devils are currently a long way from competing with the leading duo: This season the big club are currently fifteenth in a league of 18 teams after 17 games.
The spotlight at Deportivo is primarily on the top scorer and provider Leonardo Fernández. The 23-year-old Uruguayan, signed from Tigres UANL in January, has scored seven goals and provided three assists in the previous 15 league matches. The left-footer is narrowly ahead in the club’s top scorer rankings and also in the list of the most successful providers.
Other key figures in the Toluca team are the four full internationals Claudio Baeza, Valber Huerta (both Chile), Braian Samudio (Paraguay) plus Haret Ortega (Mexico).
At the Estadio Nemesio Díez, Deportivo’s ground with a capacity of 30,000, a coach with huge experience will be sitting next to the Werkself head coach Gerardo Seoane:The 57-year-old Ignacio Ambriz took charge at Toluca at the start of the season at the turn of the year. However, his first long-term position as coach was not in Mexico but in Europe – in Spain to be more exact. The former player was assistant coach to Javier Aguirre (now at RCD Mallorca) at CA Osasuna from 2003 to 2006 and that was followed by three years together at Atlético Madrid.
Ambriz then returned to his home country where he led CF América to the South American title, Club Necaxa to be the Mexican cup winners as well as Club Léon FC to the Mexican league title.
Moreover: Toluca secured a goalless draw in a friendly against the top Spanish club Atlético Madrid in July 2017. In front of a crowd of over 20,000, Bayer 04 can gladly score one or two more goals…
The Werkself will play in their blue away kit at the Estadio Nemesio Díez. If there are no winners after 90 minutes then it will be a draw – there will be no penalty shootout. 21 players per team are permitted and there will be three substitution slots in addition to the half-time break. The referee is Adonai Escobedo. The 34-year-old Mexican officiates in the CONCACAF Champions Cup as well as the Mexican league.
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