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World Cup Predictions – Mexico

World Cup Squad:

Goalkeepers: Ochoa, Jesus Corona, Talavera

Defenders: Salcido, Marquez, Guardado, Rodriguez, Moreno, Aguilar, Reyes, Layun, Ponce

Midfielders: Pena, Fabian, Montes, Herrera, Brizuela, Vazquez

Forwards: Dos Santos, Hernandez, Peralta, Jimenez, Pulido

After successfully negotiating  two legged play-off games against New Zealand, Mexico qualified for the World Cup after having a poor qualifying campaign, finishing 4th in their CONCACAF group. Most of the selected players play in their native Mexico with only 7 of the 23 man squad playing in outside Mexico. In Mexico’s last competitve game against New Zealand in the play-off’s, Moises Munoz was the number one goal keeper but this time he has not made the 23 and can only manage the standby list. This opens up the goalkeeping position for the rest of the goalkeepers. Ochoa is the most capped goalkeeper in the current squad so he is in with a good shout. He will be looking to impress any potential clubs as he will be a free agent during the World Cup after he announced he is leaving AC Ajaccio after they were relegated from Ligue 1 in France.  Another shout of being the number one is Jesus Cornona, he is 33 years old and has played in Mexico his whole career. The third goal keeper picked by manager Herrera is Talavera, he has the least international experience of the other two with only 13 caps but will be sure to fight all the way to be number one come Mexico’s first game against Cameroon.

Against New Zealand, Mexico played a 5-3-2 formation and are probably going to stick to that going into the World Cup. A definite starter in defence will be captain Marquez, the former Barcelona centre back is highly experienced with 118 caps and at 35 years of age this will be his last chance to captain his country at a World Cup. Slotting in next to Marquez will probably be Rodriquez of Club America in Mexico. Rodriquez has 91 caps for Mexico and the defence partnership with Marquez could prove hard to break down. On the other side of Marquez will be Moreno, who plays for Espanyol in Spain. He has won 50 caps prior to the World Cup. Operating as full backs for the Mexican defence could be Layun and Aguilar. Layun plays for Club America and has been favoured by manager Herrera as the Mexican left back. Aguilar could play as right back with his pace that can cause any team problems. Aguilar aslo plays for Club America making it three out of five defenders playing for the same club. Herrera will obviously hope that their club form can reproduce on the international stage.

A surprise pick by many from Herrera is Salcido, purely because he has never selected him before. Salcido carries experience and versatility to play at either centre back or full back if required, he has won 119 caps for Mexico and is the most capped player in the squad. Guardado, who won his 100th cap for Mexico earlier this year is also in the squad but will most probably have to get used to sitting on the bench unless injuries or suspensions arise. The Bayer Leverkusen defender makes it three players in defence who have 100 caps or more for the national team. Also providing cover in defence is Ponce, who also plays in Mexico and has won only 6 caps so far in his international career and will be hoping to add to that if any injuries or suspensions occur in Brazil.

Going into the three man midfield that Herrera is likely to use, Hector Herrera will be one of the three men in there. He plays for Porto and although he has only 10 senior caps, he was part of the Mexican team who won Gold at the 2012 Olympics in London. Alongside Hector Herrera would most likely be Medina, but injury has forced him out of the World Cup squad so his replacement could be Pena, who plays for Club Leon in his homeland and is the most experienced midfielder in the sqaud with only 14 caps. The other man in midfield with Herrera and Pena will be Montes, who plays alongside Pena at Club Leon. He has 11 caps. Another Club Leon midfielder that will be pushing for a starting spot is Vasquez, but it is more likely that Fabian will thrown in if anything happens to the starting midfielders. The other midfielder battling for a place in the team is Toulca player Brizuela, he has won 5 caps for Mexico.

Hernandez will most definitely play up front as one of the two strikers, Hernandez has scored the most goals of all the strikers in the squad and although he has limited playing time for Manchester United this season, his experience and record of goals will make him a starter. His striking partner will most likely be Peralta, who has recently just signed for Club America. Peralta has scored 16 goals for his country and this puts him second behind Hernandez as the top goal scoring strikers available. Dos Santos has a good claim to be in the team with his experience of 73 caps and 14 goals. He has had a decent season with Villarreal in Spain as well, scoring 12 times this season but Dos Santos is more of an attacking midfielder than an out and out striker and with the formation Herrera is playing, there is no room for an attacking midfielder. Expect to see him thrown on if Mexico are losing and go attacking, looking for a goal. Jimenez and Pulido will provide cover for the two main strikers.

Prediction: Group Stage Mexico are in a group with hosts Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon and I see them struggling to finish second behind Brazil to qualify for the knockout round. I watched Mexico in their play off games against New Zealand and although they won 9-3 on aggregate, I was not impressed. New Zealand managed to create quite a few chances and with a better finisher, New Zealand could of knocked a few goals past them. The one thing in their favour though is the fact it is in South America and they will be used to the climate and it is not far for the Mexican fans to come support their team so they should have a strong following of supporters. I do think though, based on what I have seen of Mexico recently that they will finish bottom of their group. It is a World Cup though and anything can happen.

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