World Cup Preview – Mexico
Best World Cup Performance: Quarter-finals – 1970 and 1986
Current World Ranking: 15
It has been a while since a Mexico side have excelled at a World Cup, which has come as a great disappointment for many people of the football mad Central American nation. Their last worthy appearance of note came in 1986, where they reached the Quarter-finals while hosting the tournament.
In subsequent tournaments, La Tri have always made it out the group stage but faltered in the knock-out rounds, never making it past the last 16. This year in Russia, Mexico will be hoping to break their duck and push through to the Quarter-finals for the first time in three decades.
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul).
Defenders: Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Diego Reyes (Porto), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Edson Alvarez (America), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey), Miguel Layun (Sevilla).
Midfielders: Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Hector Herrera (Porto), Jonathan Dos Santos, Giovani Dos Santos (both LA Galaxy), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Javier Aquino (Tigres), Jesus Corona (Porto).
Forwards: Javier Hernandez (West Ham), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (America), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC), Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt).
- Vs Germany 16:00, 17.06.18 Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
- Vs South Korea 16:00, 23.06.18 Rostov Arena, Rostov
- Vs Sweden 15:00, 27.06.18 Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg
Manager – Juan Carlos Osorio
Juan Carlos Osorio spent his footballing career in South America, roaming around the midfield in clubs in Colombia and Brazil.
The Mexican took his first steps into management as an assistant manager, most notably with Manchester City, acting as an understudy to Kevin Keegan between 2001-2005. Interestingly, during his time as the City assistant he completed a diploma in Science and Football from Liverpool John Moores University yet now finds himself managing on the biggest stage of all.
Following his assistant manager role, Osorio embarked on a managerial career being employed by 7 clubs in 9 years, most notably Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls and Sao Paulo. In 2015 Mexico came calling, and he has enjoyed a successful tenure, winning 30 out of his 45 games in charge.
Mexico qualified for the Russia World Cup through the CONCACAF qualifying system beating off competition from the Caribbean as well as North and Central America.
Being one of the highest ranked teams, Mexico secured a bye to the fourth round of qualifying, where they cruised through Group A containing Honduras, Canada, and El Salvador, only dropping two points. Mexico qualified in the fifth and final round with three games to spare, beating sides such as USA, Costa Rica, and Panama.
Captain – Andres Guardado
Leading the line for El Tri is Real Betis midfielder Andres Guardado, who has been captain of Mexico since 2015.
Surprisingly, 39-year-old former captain Rafael Marquez has been called up to Mexico’s World Cup squad. However, Guardado is expected to remain captain in Russia.
The centre-mid has plenty of experience playing for Europe’s top sides, representing Deportivo de La Coruña, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, PSV Eindhoven, and current club Betis. Manager Osorio will be hoping the 31-year-old can use his extensive European experience to lead his Mexican side to a valiant display in Russia.
Danger man – Javier Hernandez
Chicharito is the all-time leading goal scorer of the Mexico national side, with 49 goals in 100 appearances. He is regarded as a living legend in Mexico, and many Mexicans will pin their hopes on the striker’s natural goal scoring ability to propel them through to the knock out stages.
Despite a disappointing season at West Ham, Hernandez still managed 8 Premier League goals, and Mexico will be sure he can fire in against the weaker sides in Group F such as Sweden and South Korea.
Young Player – Hirving Lozano
22-year-old Lozano currently plies his trade with PSV Eindhoven, having been signed at the start of the 2017/18 season from Pachuca in Liga MX.
The winger has had a tremendous start to his career in Europe, winning the Eredivisie with PSV and scoring 19 times in 34 appearances in his first season.
Lozano is credited with his ability to cut inside and produce dangerous shots, evidenced by his goal scoring record at PSV. The defences of Group F sides will be worried about Lozano, as will many full backs Mexico may face if they qualify from the group.
There will be only one Premier League representative in Mexico’s squad in Russia – Javier Hernandez of West Ham.
Giovanni Dos Santos of LA Galaxy is one of the Mexican players in Osorio’s squad with Premier League experience, having previously turned out for Spurs (2008-2012). Others include Miguel Layun (Watford, 2015) and Carlos Vela (Arsenal, 2005-2012).
Mexico will be looking to break the curse of losing in the round of 16, however their most likely opponent will be Brazil. The samba stars will present huge obstacle to Mexico, with not many people backing them to get through.
A good showing in the group stage could provide La Tri with great confidence going into the last 16, and if they can get a good result against Germany there is no reason they couldn’t challenge for the top spot, potentially making the last 16 a little easier.