Miguel Herrera has decided to go with a 5-3-2 formation to lead Mexico into the World Cup, meaning only two of the five forwards will be able to display their talent from the very start against Cameroon. While this may give Mexico extra firepower, something lacking throughout most of their qualification games, it gives Herrera a headache because they have all, in their own way, given him a reason for why they should lead the offense.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Oribe Peralta, Giovani dos Santos, Raul Jimenez, and Alan Pulido. All these names will surely be going through Herrera’s head when naming his starting XI; it’s not so clear as to who he’ll pick for their opening game, but through trial and error, a partnership is coming together.
Oribe Peralta was once again given the nod for their friendly 3-1 win over Ecuador and contributed a great amount: despite not being as clinical as he’s been lately, he consistently threatened Ecuador and pulled defenders out of position. His worth was shown earlier that week against Israel, partnering with the legendary Cuahtemoc Blanco, confidently shooting from distance, giving the Israeli backline problems throughout the game. Peralta was also the hero in Mexico’s intercontinental play-off against New Zealand, netting a hat trick in the 5-0 thrashing and later two more in the return leg.
Dos Santos made his Mexican debut under Herrera after scrutiny as to how the versatile midfielder would fit into the implemented system, and he managed to deliver. His mobility in the midfield and the final third certainly helped. He wasn’t a complete “No.9”, constantly dropping deeper than Peralta, but scored a goal – his first since 2013. Throughout the game, his work rate was clear, pulling fouls from the Ecuadorian defenders, creating chances for his teammates, and intimidating the goalkeeper.
Dos Santos was called up for Mexico’s qualification games but played below par, something common among the team; he did shine throughout the season for Villarreal, scoring 11 goals.
Raul Jimenez and Alan Pulido are the least talked about from the selected offensive fray, yet they have stirred a ripple in the national setup. Jimenez hasn’t been as prolific for Mexico as he has for America, but his spectacular overhead goal against Panama kept El Tri in contention for qualifying.
Pulido recently stepped up for the national team after being overlooked for the 2012 Olympic squad and enjoying the fruitful 2013-14 Clausura with Tigres UANL. Herrera first called him up for the friendly against South Korea and Pulido instantly made an impact, scoring a hat trick in the eventual 4-0 win. Both have contributed in their own right and will surely look to impress further on.
Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, the “Golden Boy,” the man who was expected to carry Mexico into the World Cup, heavily disappointed the Mexican community. Failing to score throughout Mexico’s qualification journey tore the heart of many fans, having to be rescued by the U.S.’s dramatic 3-2 win over Panama. Despite recent struggles, he has shined on the national stage: he helped them clinch the 2011 Gold Cup and consistently gave it his all when starting. He will have to rekindle with his old form to be in contention of being a starter in Brazil, something all five strikers yearn for.
All five players have shown to Herrera they deserve to be on the team-sheet against Cameroon, and he’ll have to give it serious thought. With a couple more friendlies to be played before their opening game, Herrera will have some time to decide on his best partnership but – as of now – Peralta and dos Santos are his best options.
Peralta has performed at a consistently high level and certainly has an eye for goal delivering in the biggest of moments, Mexico’s final in the Olympics and the intercontinental play-offs. Dos Santos offers revelation to a team that has turned predictable; he is a threat in front of goal, can create chances for those around him, has a great work ethic, and like Peralta, can inflict the opponent’s defense in the critical moments.