El Tri FIFA World Cup 2014

World Cup Preview: Mexico

4:38 PMAleks Vee

by Aleks V

The first in a World Cup preview series that highlights one team from each Group.

Group A: Mexico

Mexico celebrate a goal in a World Cup Qualifier against New Zealand. Photo: REUTERS


One of the most highly-anticipated teams in the tournament other than the host nation is the Mexican national team. Having hired a new coach for their last Qualifying games, El Tri are an engima. Qualifiers and friendlies haven't given us enough perspective into just what this particular side is capable of. One thing is for sure - Mexico coach Miguel Herrera is unlikely to change most of the key players he's called up for the last Qualifying games. Relying on quite a few players from his former coaching job at Club América gives him the advantage of knowing who can deliver the results he wants. The World Cup will be the ultimate test for Herrera, and will prove whether a successful club manager can translate his expertise to the national team level with minimal time and maximum resources.


Predicted Squad

Goalkeepers:
Moises Munoz
Guillermo Ochoa
Jose Corona


Given the choice between Ochoa or Jonathan Orozco in goal, Herrera will likely choose the former América keeper, who has 56 caps for the national team. Munoz has proven to be a spectacular keeper at América after Ochoa's departure and may be in the starting XI during the Group Stage, alternating with Ochoa if Mexico makes the next round.

Defenders:
LB Jorge Torres Nilo
LB Adrian Aldrete
CB/LB Juan Carlos Valenzuela
CB/DM Rafael Marquez
CB Francisco Javier Rodriguez
CB Hector Moreno
RB/LB Miguel Layun
RB Paul Aguilar


Marquez is Mexico's most experienced player and will no doubt play an important role in their WC campaign. Centre back Hector Moreno, who played for Mexico in the last World Cup as well as in the 2005 U-17 tournament, is a likely candidate for Herrera's side. Francisco Rodriguez might be preferred over 21-year-old Diego Reyes if Herrera goes for an older back four. There's less competition for the left-back spot, so Club América's Adrian Aldrete will likely feature.

Midfielders:
LW/LB Andres Guardado
LW Alonso Escoboza
DM/LB Jose Juan Vazquez
DM Jesus Zavala
AM Marco Fabian
AM Isaac Brizuela
RM Juan Carlos Medina
RM Javier Aquino

Recently, Mexico's midfield has had more of an emphasis on the center than on the wings. The young Escoboza who featured against New Zealand in the Qualifiers may be an option on the bench, with Guardado starting on the left wing.

Forwards:
Javier Hernandez
Raul Jimenez
Oribe Peralta
Giovani dos Santos


Manchester United's Chicharito and Santos Laguna's Oribe Peralta are obvious choices. Raul Jimenez is likely to be chosen over the recently called-up Alan Pulido, with 22 caps as opposed to Pulido's 3. Dos Santos is the next youngest forward available after Jimenez, and is more experienced than any of the recent call-ups. Although recovering from a left calf injury, the Villareal player is expected to feature in Herrera's WC roster.

Predicted Results

vs. Cameroon - 4:0
The last World Cup saw Cameroon lose all three of its Group Stage games, although they did prevent Denmark and the Netherlands from keeping a clean sheet. In only the second-ever and first official Mexico-Cameroon match-up, expect an easy win for El Tri. 

vs. Brazil - 2:2
With two strong, goal-scoring teams, a fiery draw is almost certain.

vs. Croatia - 2:1
Croatia can score when they want, and with a great goalkeeper in Stipe Pletikosa, The Blazers are unlikely to concede plenty of goals.  

Predicted Group Stage Finish

Brazil
Mexico
Croatia
Cameroon

Facts and Figures

* In the 2010 World Cup, Mexico was eliminated in the Round of 16 after a 3-1 defeat to Argentina. Javier Hernandez scored their only goal.
* Mexico's best World Cup performance was as a host nation, reaching the Quarter-Finals in 1970 and 1986. They were eliminated with the same score of 1:4 by Italy and West Germany respectively, the latter on penalties.
* Mexico met Brazil in the Group Stage in three other World Cup tournaments (1950, 1954, 1962). They lost on all three occasions, unable to score a single goal.
* Rafa Marquez is the third-highest goalscorer for Mexico in all World Cup tournaments.

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