Mexico, 19th in the Fifa rankings, will hope to turn around disappointing qualifying play into more success in Brazil. They took care of New Zealand in a playoff to get here, but have to thank American Graham Zusi for even having this opportunity. In this particular group, they have the potential to make some noise in what looks to be an average group overall despite having the home country (Brazil) with them. Soccer is huge in Mexico and a lot of the credit or blame will unfortunately fall upon manager Miguel Herrera. Herrera took over for the two-leg playoff with New Zealand and is undefeated while in charge. Herrera, Mexico’s fourth coach since last September, was able to provide motivation for Mexico to avoid a major disappointment. In this World Cup, Herrera will need to continue this motivation and inspire them to pick up their play to what many expect.
Players to Watch For
The dangerous striker that goes by the name Chicharito is simply a goal-scoring force. He hasn’t gotten a ton of minutes this season with Manchester United, but he has consistently showed his goal-scoring ability on the national stage with Mexico. Hernandez isn’t a player that relies on physicality, rather he uses his vision and decision-making to make a constant impact on games. Mexico will rely on him to be a dangerous player up top and present them with goal-scoring opportunities.
Giovani dos Santos
The midfielder from Villarreal will need to be in top form to be able to fight off Croatia for the second spot coming out of Group A. In the current La Liga season, Santos has produced 10 goals and 7 assists over 29 games. He has previously spent stints at Barcelona, Mallorca, and Tottenham. Like Chicharito, dos Santos isn’t a physical player. However, he more than makes up for it with plus-speed and excellent ball control.
I am not entirely sure on the formations Herrera will toss out there, but Peralta may be starting up top ahead of Chicharito. With this said, I do expect both strikers to get minutes in the group stage games. The forward from Santos was huge down the stretch for Mexico and seems to be in better form than Javier Hernandez. He netted five goals in the two-leg playoff with New Zealand. Although, some of this may be due to Hernandez’s spotty minutes at Manchester United. All in all, “El Cepillo” will be a critical asset to Mexico’s World Cup future.
Group Stage Games
June 13 vs. Cameroon
June 17 vs. Brazil
June 23 vs. Croatia
“El Tri” is placed in a favorable group. The way I see it Brazil will move on and the final spot will come down to Croatia and Mexico. With Mexico getting Cameroon first, they should get a quick 3 points and this match could serve as a confidence booster. Mexico will then advance past the group stage, only to fall to a dreadful matchup with either Spain or the Netherlands.