The 2014 FIFA Brazil World Cup is set to begin in just a few days, as on June 12th, Brazil and Croatia will inaugurate the highly anticipated competition to millions of fans. The day following the inauguration, Mexico will play in their first game against a difficult opponent like Cameroon (Camerun). The four teams mentioned are part of Group A, and while it is expected that Brazil will win the group, the second place position will be extremely contested between the other three sides.
Against Cameroon, the team coached by Miguel ‘Piojo’ Herrera has to style a perfect game, as anything else other than the 3 points will put their ‘5th-game’ goal in jeopardy. It is expected that Mexico will play offensively like they have throughout the entire Piojo era, however, some questions arise as to who the starting eleven will be.
The biggest question surrounding ‘El Tri’ since day one has been the goalkeeper position. All three keepers are starting caliber, although Alfredo Talavera seems to have lost any hope of winning the position over teammates Jesus Corona, and Guillermo Ochoa. Both Corona and Ochoa have performed wonderfully, and both keepers have great resumes to support their case.
Corona has been the starting keeper for Mexico in the past three years and won the gold medal for Mexico on London 2012, while Ochoa is younger, yet he has been one of the best goalkeepers in France’s Ligue 1 in the past three seasons. At the end, coach Herrera will choose Ochoa over Corona, in an attempt which will also give the keeper confidence looking forward into Russia 2018.
The defensive line has done well in the past four friendlies against Israel, Ecuador, Bosnia, and Portugal, therefore there will no surprises there. That line of five will be composed of Paul Aguilar, ‘Maza’ Rodriguez, Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, and Miguel Layun.
The midfield, meanwhile, is a big question mark for Mexico as it suffered the injuries of Juan Carlos Medina and Luis Montes within the past month. Those injuries forced Herrera to remove two possible starters which changed the picture of the midfield line substantially. Against Cameroon, it is expected that ‘Gallito’ Vazquez will be positioned in the defensive midfield position, with dynamic Hector Herrera on the center-right. The question arises as if Andres Guardado, Carlos Peña, or Marco Fabian will play on the center-left.
Guardado is not a natural to that position, but he has shown he has the ability to recuperate balls on defense, while at the same time provides an excellent foot for long distance shots and crosses. Peña was expected to be the starter a month ago, but his performances in the last friendlies were poor, therefore the agile midfielder who is a natural to the position, will most likely be on the bench against Cameroon. Lastly, Fabian is also a natural to the position, and scored two goals in the past friendlies. He will be number two behind Guardado on June 13th’s match.
Finally, the offense will be composed of Oribe Peralta, who is not on his best moment, and someone else. The doubt is if Herrera will choose Giovani Dos Santos who can change the game in an instant with his playmaking but who may not be a natural striker, or Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez who is a great poacher, but does not have great playmaking. Either one could start against Cameroon, however, it will most like be Dos Santos who wins that position as he has more ball control and better field positioning.
The starting eleven against Cameroon will have the pressure to win the match, as a loss or a tie will make things difficult for Mexico going against Brazil and Croatia later in the group stages. Although the lineup will most likely change for the final two games and maybe even the next round, the players chosen on June 13 will provide speed, possession of the ball, a solid defense, and a game focused on the left wing.
Mexico Possible Starting XI:
GK: Guillermo Ochoa
DF: Paul Aguilar, Francisco Rodriguez, Rafa Marquez, Hector Moreno, Miguel Layun
MF: Gallito Vazquez, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado
FW: Oribe Perlata, Giovani Dos Santos