World Cup Team Profile - Mexico
Coach: Miguel Herrera
Captain: Rafa Marquez (Leon)
Full Mexico Roster
The Road to Rio: Few expected that Mexico would have quite this much trouble getting their ticket punched to Brazil. Doubly so, after the Mexicans posted a perfect 6-0 record in the third round of qualifying, allowing just two goals in the process.
Somehow, though, The Hex proved a nightmare for the Mexicans.It was not until their fourth match that the Mexicans finally registered a win, beating Jamaica 1-0. Along the way were two scoreless draws at the Azteca against Jamaica and the U.S.
Mexico would win just one more game in The Hex, edging Panama 2-1 in October. Two goals in stoppage time helped the U.S. stun Panama on the final day of qualifying, pulling the Mexicans out of a potential miss scenario and into a playoff against Oceania champions New Zealand.
Santos striker Oribe Peralta, who accounted for nearly half of Mexico’s goals in The Hex, stepped up and dominated the Kiwis. His brace at the Azteca put the first leg out of reach and he would follow that up in Wellington with a hat trick that was complete just over a half-hour into the match. Mexico were off to their sixth straight Final, but they took a longer road than they probably expected.
Last World Cup appearance: South Africa 2010 (Round of 16)
First World Cup appearance: Uruguay 1930 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 14
Best World Cup finish: Quarter-Finals (2 – Mexico 1970, Mexico 1986)
El Tri have reached the knockout stages in five straight World Cups and if they are to do so in 2014, it may be their most impressive showing to date. Getting to Brazil was a trial in itself for Mexico, but getting out of Group A might be even tougher.
Herrera finds himself in a situation where his best player probably shouldn’t be in his starting XI. In terms of sheer talent, Javier Hernandez has the most of it on this Mexico side, but Chicharito rarely featured this year for Manchester United. His nine goals this season was his smallest output since moving to England from Guadalajara in 2010. With the likelihood of operating in a 5-3-2, Herrera will turn to Villarreal’s Giovani dos Santos to partner Oribe Peralta (America) in attack. Chicharito has the third-most goals in Mexico history and is a constant threat in the area, but on form alone, it’s hard to argue with the creativity of the former Arsenal man in dos Santos.
Up until the last day of May, Herrera thought his attack would be his biggest question mark, but Luis Montes’s devastating leg injury in a friendly against Chile will force Herrera to switch things around in the middle of the park. Carlos Pena, who would have been relied on for a more defensive role at the centre of the midfield, may be called into advancing his position and there is the increased prospect of larger reliance on Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul).
Mexico will open up the tournament against Cameroon and will very likely need to come away with all three points to have any chance of advancing past the group stage. In World Cup play, El Tri are undefeated in their last five opening matches, so that bodes well for them. Yet, with Montes out and uncertainty surrounding the health of captain Marquez, the fact that they were able to improbably qualify at all for this World Cup might be what Mexico will be forced to hang its hat on in 2014.