Mexico's ideal lineup for Dutch match
I have exciting news for all of you.
I, Cesar Hernandez, have become the new national team coach for Mexico. Well, I may be lying, but for the sake of the argument, let's just pretend that this is true. It will be fun, I promise.
As I'm sitting here in my $20 office chair that I purchased from a friend, I'm beginning to rearrange and re-evaluate the current lineup for Mexico against the Netherlands.
It obviously would be a terrible yet intriguing decision to give a 25-year-old the managerial position for El Tri. Yet, assuming that this personal fairy tale is true, here is exactly what I would do with the squad heading into the round of 16.
First off, I'm well aware that Carlos Salcido is the most rational replacement for Jose Juan Vazquez, but there is no time for logic in my lineup. The World Cup is the time for teams to take chances. Those who have sat back and played conservatively were rewarded with early flights home.
In the defensive midfield position, I would start Andres Guardado. Pessimists will point out that Guardado was average at best in the defensive midfield spot against Israel, but his current form would make him a perfect fit. I would rather have an Andres Guardado who could create a few opportunities going forward than a conservative Carlos Salcido.
Imagine it for a second: Andres Guardado, Hector Herrera and Marco Fabian. This would be the perfect time for Fabian to shine as one of the attacking midfield options. Fabian is more than capable of creating some magical moments, and what better moment for magic than in the World Cup?
As for the strikers, I would keep Oribe Peralta and Giovani dos Santos for a bit. Dos Santos has proven to be one of the harder-working players on the pitch for Mexico this World Cup, but if there is a lack of goals or attacking movement, I would bring in Javier Hernandez at halftime. Hernandez was a positive influence against Croatia and deserves to be given more time. I'm not saying that he should start, but if dos Santos begins to falter, I wouldn't second-guess giving him 45 minutes.
Guillermo Ochoa is a shoo-in for goalkeeper and I have full faith in Francisco Rodriguez, Hector Moreno and Rafael Marquez. Well, full faith in Rodriguez to an extent. I would make sure that Diego Reyes was ready at any point to take over for the aging defender, though one who I must admit has done surprisingly well.
One of my biggest worries in the starting XI concerns a favorite player of mine, Miguel Layun. Before the start of the World Cup, I assumed that Layun would be one of Mexico's breakout stars in the tournament. I daydreamed about devastatingly fast runs and beautiful crosses from the wing-back for the national team. Since the start of the World Cup, Layun has had little to no influence on most of the matches.
This doesn't necessarily mean that I would take him out of the starting lineup, but I would make sure that Miguel Ponce would be ready on the sidelines. Ponce may not be as talented as Layun, but it would be tempting to bring him on, as Layun has been very quiet so far in the World Cup.
There you have it. My only changes would be slotting in Guardado in the defensive midfield position and bringing in Fabian as another attacking midfielder with Herrera. Dos Santos and Layun would have tenuous grasps on their starting positions, with Hernandez and Ponce both eyeing the possibility of sneaking into the match. Rodriguez isn't my ideal starting defender, but it's hard to argue against his decent performances so far in the World Cup.
Cesar Hernandez covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @cesarhfutbol.