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Friday, June 6, 2014

The FIFA World Cup Team Runthrough Thread #1 For 6/6/14: #22 Mexico

Photo from Getty Images 

Projected Lineup

                   Corona

Aguilar - Moreno- Rodriguez - Layun 

                      Herrera 
        Guardado   -     Peña 

           Dos Santos -  Fabian 
                                   
                   Hernandez 

The Runthrough

An encouraging 2011 and fantastic 2012 for El Tri was completely wiped away with the most stressful year in its federation's history in 2013, making their 2014's fate completely capricious. 

Add in the long, unfortunate and annoying saga of Carlos Vela not wanting, in the form of his life, to play for his country with his continued disgust for the FMF (Mexican Federation of Association Football) and only God knows what is next for this country's soccer team. 

Miguel Herrera has brought some stability to the categorical mess the situation was before last fall's playoff ties with New Zealand, but that could all change in Group A with Croatia looking more as the second team to join Brazil in the knockout stages in the group. It makes Mexico's first game against Cameroon on June 13 all the more paramount to secure three points, with the hosts lurking in the second game. 

Herrera had to witness Luis Montes' brutal injury at the hands of Segundo Castillo's challenge last week, and will be down a key midfield choice that could help prevent Javier Hernandez from getting isolated going forward. There is still that speculation as to whether Herrera should even have Chicharito in the lineup considering his long goal scoring drought for Mexico coupled with Oribe Peralta's fine form for the nation.

No matter the selection, Herrera seems set on Giovanni Dos Santos playing with a partner instead of being a de facto playmaker behind two forwards. But what Herrera could do, if he doesn't want both Peralta and Hernandez on the field together, is play the explosive Marco Fabian on the left with Dos Santos on the right in a 4-3-3 or 5-2-3 (as he did against Bosnia).   Dos Santos and Fabian could interchange throughout and would get key assistance outside from overlapping Club America fullbacks Paul Aguilar and Miguel Layun. 

Layun has come on rapidly in the last year for Club America and his country, establishing himself ahead of the in-decline Andres Guardado at the moment to start at left back. Layun is versatile and can play on the right, but Aguilar sound standing there will have Herrera place the Cordoba native in his primary spot. 

The fullbacks can only have confidence going forward if they get sound play from the deeper center mids,  and there are concerns growing around Hector Herrera's partner Carlos Peña. After a great last few years helping Leon become a formidable force in Liga MX and his emergence in midfield when Mexico needed it during the New Zealand playoff leg, Peña ball retaining and passing has been sloppy of late. He must improve fast or it will make the workload on the effective 24-year-old Herrera become a true encumbrance. 

Peña shaky play will also make a backline that has been constantly changed all the more suspect. Herrera still is not sure if he wants to play 4 or 5 at the back, as well as even placing long term stalwarts Rafa Marquez (one of the handful of players who could play in their 4th World Cup this tournament) and Carlos Salcido in the first eleven. It would be a mistake if Herrera did that, as both 100 cap stars are past their prime and would guarantee the likes of Eto'o & company, the Mandzukic-Olic duo, and the hosts' vaunted attack salivating at the plethora of chances they would receive.  

Miguel Herrera would be wise to have Hector Moreno and Diego Reyes as firm first choice centerbacks in front of Jose Corona. Reyes, like Hector Herrera, made the switch last summer to Porto. But while his friends' initial campaign with the Portuguese giants produced good moments, the 21-year-old talented defender found time understandably hard to come by. With his precocious abilities, Reyes may some think he could be the next Rafa Marquez for his country with how organized and consistent he was in Mexico winning the London Olympics two years ago. Having the presence of a young veteran defender in Moreno next to Reyes is instrumental, as the Espanyol man has had a good three year spell in La Liga and has much left at just age 26. 

The former America, Atlante, and Monterrey manager will likely though partner Moreno with the regressing Maza Rodriguez, who in his third World Cup phase is a mistake bound to happen. The vast experience he brings to the table over Reyes seems like it will garner him that starting nod, but it won't quell Mexican fans unease at seeing him there. Those same worries at goalkeeper, with a fine 1-2 punch in Jose Corona and Memo Ochoa, thankfully don't exist for their sake. 

Despite the injuries to Montes and Juan Carlos Medina, this Mexican team is still filled with fine options on its bench, especially in attack. Javier Aquino, who should have been on the original 23 to begin with in most people's eyes, would start for any other CONCACAF side with his constant activity in the lineup at Villarreal with Dos Santos. 23-year-old Raul Jimenez certainly resembles a young Jared Borgetti with his clinical abilities in the box. And one of both Peralta and Hernandez will join another rising 23-year-old in Tigres' Alan Pulido as attractive subs for manager Herrera. 


It's time for Mexico's golden generation, even without Vela, to take advantage of the lifeline given to them by Graham Zusi's goal in Panama last October and recapture their 2011 and 2012 form. This side has too much quality to not show anything of merit in Brazil. But when instability is a bad goal away from coming in, it's hard to say what El Tri actually deserve. 

Under The Radar, Key Player: 

Hector Herrera: The 2012 Toulon tournament MVP and prominent figure in their Olympic winning side that same year, Herrera has shown that he can play on a big international stage. But performing on the international stage against the likes of Modric, Paulinho, and Alex Song is a whole another story. Herrera must protect his centerbacks and his likely partner in the center midfield in Peña with the solid ball winning and passing that made him such a commodity before moving to Porto. 
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