We at Daily Vedas continue to look at the teams participating in the FIFA World Cup 2014. We preview Mexico, currently ranked 20th in the FIFA standings and their expectations in this World Cup.
Imagine a situation where your team is seconds away from missing out on the World Cup; the only hope you have is your arch rivals who are playing simultaneously and they need to beat their opponents so to go ensure your team goes through. Miracles do happen in football, Mexico almost did not make it to the World Cup. They needed 2 injury time goals from their great rivals, the United States, who beat Panama while Mexico lost to Costa Rica. This result was enough for the team to go through to a playoff against New Zealand which they duly won. They appointed Miguel Herrera for the two legged play off against New Zealand on an interim basis. Herrera had just won the Mexican league with Club America before he was asked to take over the national side and will be hoping to take the team further than their best result which was the quarter finals in 1970 and 1986.
The team which could be on its way to the World Cup could feature the following players, though nothing is certain till the final squads are named.
Goalkeepers: Moises Munoz, Alfredo Talavera, Guillermo Ochoa Defenders: Paul Aguilar, Rogelio Chavez, Miguel Layun, Rafael Marquez, Enrique Perez, Miguel Angel Ponce, Francisco Javier Rodriguez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela Midfielders: Marco Fabian, Juan Carlos Medin, Luis Montes, Carlos Pena, Jesus Zavala, Andreas Guardado, Javier Aquino. Forwards: Isaac Brizuela, Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, Giovanni Dos Santos
The team consist of players who are based in the Mexican League and the MLS with a few stars who have shone for their clubs in Europe. Most people would know about the exploits of Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) for Manchester United and Giovani Dos Santos, the ex Barcelona forward. These two players would be counted on the most by the Mexican team, at least from an attacking point of view. In defense, they have Rafael Marquez and Hector Moreno who provide solid protection at the back. Rafa is the wise man of the team as he would be leading them out as captain and Moreno is one of the best center backs in La Liga, currently plying his trade for Espanyol.
Miguel Herrera was chosen as the interim manager just for the play off against New Zealand and got the job full time after beating them and taking his team to the World Cup. The biggest issue he would face is to decide what his best 11 would be, having only been in charge of the team for 5 games. He might have bitten a bit more than he can chew by taking a team to the World Cup with such little preparation and time with the team. Taking them to the next round could be a tough task given they are in a group with Brazil and Croatia.
- Javier Hernandez: Better known as Chicharito for both his country and club (Manchester United). The 25 year old striker is the third highest goal scorer for his country, netting 35 goals in just 57 games. This would be his second World Cup and he would be looking to do well in the tournament after having a rather quiet season with Manchester United.
- Giovani Dos Santos: A maverick to say the least but has got talent in abundance for certain. Dos Santos has graduated from La Masia, Barcelona’s famed youth academy before moving away in search of more regular first team action. He has had stints with Tottenham, Galatasaray, Racing Santandar and Real Mallorca before ending up at Villareal where he has shone for the Yellow Submarines. He has 14 goals for his country and has scored 11 times and provided 7 assist for Villareal, making it his best return for any club till date.
- Hector Moreno: There was a time when defense for the Mexican team meant Rafael Marquez, those days have gone and their main defensive stalwart is Moreno. Moreno plays as a central defender for Espanyol and was named as the club’s player of the year in the 2011-12 season. He knows what it takes to win a major trophy by lifting the Eredivisie title with AZ Alkmaar and would be hoping to do well in his second World Cup.
Herrera likes to experiment and switches between a 5-3-2 and a 3-5-2. Herrera is still experimenting to find out what his final squad is. An emphasis is placed on ball possession, with his teams always looking very offensive and direct despite boasting three central defenders at all times. The flanks are always used to good effect by the wing backs and there is a lot of link up play between the midfield and the wing backs to create openings for the forwards.
Strengths and Weaknesses:
The major strength of the team is the wealth of talent they have going up front. Chicarito and Santos are just two players to look out for. The wing backs, Aguilar and Layun are important to the system and their bombardment is something to keep an eye out for opposing defenses as they try to release the forward line up. The major worry would be in central midfield and defense, Rafa Marquez is well past his best and is the captain of the side and their lightweight midfield isn’t the best out there either.
Given the fact that Miguel hasn’t had much time to learn about his squad, after only reaching this stage of the competition after beating New Zealand, the way the team struggled in the CONCACAF qualifying and the fact that they are in a group comprising of Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon, it would be really tough for them to make it through the group. Unfortunately for Mexico fans; they might not make it to the next round of the FIFA World Cup 2014.