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Jun 10, 2014

Mexico lineup chosen by consensus

What players will be healthy and what players will start in the World Cup?

SANTOS, Brazil -- Miguel Herrera chose Guillermo Ochoa. He warned that the decision on Mexico's starting goalkeeper, when taken, would be the manager's to make.

But in making his selections for Mexico's starting lineup against Cameroon, "El Piojo" has proved that he chooses by consensus and doesn't feel like he's the owner of the absolute truth.

Compared to former managers of El Tri, Herrera is not as obtuse as Ricardo La Volpe, whispering only with his mentalist. He's not as fragile and gullible as Javier Aguirre, allowing assistant Mario Carrillo to call in Cuauhtémoc Blanco against Uruguay and Bofo Bautista against Argentina.

Along with Ochoa as goalkeeper against Cameroon, Herrera has chosen Andrés Guardado to start instead of Gullit Peña and Giovani dos Santos instead of Chicharito.

I remain convinced that the best Guardado today can never prove he's better than the best Peña, whose problem is not a drop in his game but the lack of understanding of his way of playing, left in evidence without his lethal partnership with Luis Montes.

Striker Dos Santos must show his full virtues. We can't forget that he, Rafa Márquez and Carlos Salcido were the most solid and consistent performers in South Africa 2010, when even Dos Santos provided truly remarkable support in defense.

What matters most is that Herrera has already defined his starting XI. Apparently he had done it for the game against Portugal and just needed one last review of applicants.

Miguel Herrera has had to alter his side after numerous injuries in Mexico's build up to the World Cup.
Many of Miguel Herrera's choices of starters for Mexico's first game can be questioned.

It's curious, though. He chooses Ochoa, despite allowing the goal against Portugal for which he was blamed with unnecessary cruelty on social networks.

I still think the same about Guardado; he hindered the presence of Miguel Layún without enriching the game's first half. For whatever reason -- ignorance, suspicion or jealousy -- he refused to join with the América player to create scoring chances, when vividness and one-two passes were the perfect pick to bust the locks.

As for center-back Maza Rodriguez, Herrera explained on ESPN Deportes Radio program "Raza Deportiva": "He is a man in whom I trust. He has responded very well in crucial moments."

Let's remember that Maza has not disappointed. He never disappoints. He makes mistakes, but he does not disappoint. Someone could resurrect the case of Ricardo Osorio and the distraction generated by that goal against Argentina in the World Cup in South Africa, but it's just that -- an error, not a recurring issue.

Therefore, within Herrera's limitations, within the borders of his virtues, those players who go up against Cameroon will leave their skin on the field. Interestingly enough, something happens in the head of a Mexican player when he rises to these tournaments. He no longer does it with a reverential fear of committing an error but rather the situational value of competing.

How useful was it to end the mystery of the starting lineup against Cameroon? Especially within the team, the obligations have been defined, but the conditions have also been exposed. Errors will be tolerated based on their origins.

The legendary Renato Cesarini said it well: "The player can make a mistake with his feet but not with his head."

In other words, errors can be made, but not those that damage, especially in tactical discipline, the doctrine of El Piojo. ("Everyone runs here, everyone fights here, everyone attacks here, and everyone defends here.")

The fervor of defending the privilege of being in the World Cup will be required as well. It's useful to recall a valuable situation: The three Europeans who trod on the field against Cameroon, in unexpected conditions, with all the confidence of Herrera, are the same ones who once spurned him.

The reader will no doubt recall that, before the playoff against New Zealand on Nov. 16, El Piojo told ESPN that he had communicated with all the Europeans to explain why he hadn't called them to the fight for the ticket to the World Cup.

From that attempt at an explanation, the only players who did not answer the call (even though Herrera left a voice message), never returning the courtesy, neither directly nor through their representatives, were Ochoa, Guardado, Dos Santos and Carlos Vela.

Today, three of them -- Memo, Gio and Guardado -- have been given the Mexico coach's absolute faith.

The twists and turns of life.

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