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Jun 9, 2014

World Cup prediction: Mexico

After four years of waiting, the time has come. Another World Cup is here and our bloggers across all 32 competing countries have predicted the fate that awaits their team. The country's "outlook" gives a general view of their situation ahead of the tournament, while "pitfalls" is a look at any potential problems. Elsewhere, each country will predict its top scorer and breakout star while also suggesting how far it can go.

OUTLOOK

Mexico might be the most fragile of squads heading into the World Cup. After a horrific qualifying run that featured four different coaches, as well as injuries to two vital members of the team, El Tri somehow stumble their way into Brazil.

That being said, head coach Miguel Herrera has had less than a year with the squad but has shown he is capable of motivating them in his limited time. His affable nature has resonated well with the players but a big concern still looms over his head. That is, he still has yet to find all of the right pieces to the puzzle before the World Cup. There is enough quality to do well, but Herrera will need to choose the right permutation in order to succeed.

PITFALLS

Defense. Although Mexico has had recent issues with scoring, it still has a wealth of options in the attack.

In defense, though, there are various worries. Francisco Rodriguez is set to be a starter as one of three central defenders but is infamous for late and unnecessary tackles. Rafael Marquez, who is likely to be captain, has a long history of a short temper and a red card in a big-game situation wouldn't be atypical. Hector Moreno, Mexico's best defender and saving grace, has not played as well recently as he has with his club side, Espanyol.

Diego Reyes, at 21 years of age, is Mexico's youngest player on the squad and also the one with the most potential. He is the perfect solution to Mexico's defensive woes in maybe a year or so. His questionable form of late has allocated his skills to the bench instead of the pitch.

STAR SCORER

Javier Hernandez has had his worst season with Manchester United and has not scored for his country since last summer in the Confederations' Cup. Which is exactly why I believe he will be Mexico's top striker in Brazil: He thrives off being the underdog.

The striker now has plenty to prove to El Tri fans and, with a possible move away from United this summer, a good World Cup run may be the difference between a transfer to a solid La Liga side or a mid-table Serie A team.

Fans of El Tri are still unsure exactly what to expect out of Javier Hernandez and Mexico at the World Cup.
Hernandez may have to settle for a place on the Mexican bench for the World Cup opener against Cameroon on June 13.

WILD CARD

Hector Herrera, who has just finished an impressive season with FC Porto and has been Mexico's most confident player on the pitch during recent games. The "Mexican Ribery" is a dangerous attacking threat in the middle and has the skills to create and score some beautiful goals.

Herrera is an effective box-to-box midfielder who is willing to take risks, something Mexico dearly needs. The 24-year-old is competent enough to stand out among his peers and will probably be the squad's breakout star.

PREDICTION: Last 16

Mexico is a fairly young and dynamic squad with an immense amount of talent. The players have had little time together, but the team should have enough skill to narrowly sneak out of the group stage.

Unfortunately, that will likely be the end of the World Cup tour for Mexico. It's hard to look past the talents of potential second-round opponents such as Netherlands, Spain or Chile when contrasting them with El Tri. The curse will continue for Mexico and it's fans -- I predict they will finish in the round of 16 for a sixth straight World Cup.

Cesar Hernandez

Cesar Hernandez can't remember a time when soccer hasn't been a part of his daily routine. Within that personal immersion of fĂștbol is a lifelong passion for the Mexican national team. He has blogged on El Tri for four years mainly through his blog The Big Verde. Follow him on Twitter @cesarh1030.