How will Mexico line up against the United States?
Mexico kicks off its participation in the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying with a crunch clash against the United States in Columbus, Ohio. Juan Carlos Osorio has become infamous for his rotations despite picking a fairly predictable squad. Can we guess how his team will line up against the Stars and Stripes?
Our Mexico experts Tom Marshall, Nayib Moran and Cesar Hernandez predict their starting XIs below. Have your say in the comments section!
Tom Marshall's XI (3-3-3-1): Alfredo Talavera; Carlos Salcedo, Diego Reyes, Hector Moreno; Hector Herrera, Rafa Marquez, Andres Guardado; Giovani dos Santos, Marco Fabian, Raul Jimenez; Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez
Competition for starting spots in this Mexico team is fierce. Did anyone see Carlos Vela's performance last weekend? In that sense, Osorio has what he wanted. But for those trying to predict what he will do, there are many complications, especially with the formation.
Osorio has, however, given us some clues. The likelihood that the United States will play with two strikers hints at Mexico fielding three central defenders to create numeric superiority in that sector of the pitch. And Osorio's concerns about the U.S.'s aerial threat mean Mexico will likely field at least six players he considers to be good in the air, with Talavera almost certain to start in goal.
Nayib Moran's XI (3-3-3-1): Talavera; Salcedo, Nestor Araujo, Moreno; Miguel Layun, Marquez, Guardado; Jonathan dos Santos, Giovani dos Santos, Fabian; Chicharito.
Of the 25 players in Mexico's roster, seven can be considered natural center backs, but it's likely that Osorio will go with three center backs. Similarly, the likelihood that he opts to use a 3-3-3-1 formation (as he did against Uruguay in the Copa America Centenario) increases.
Mexico's center backs are not afraid to start the plays from the back and Osorio is well aware of this fact. Marquez will probably appear in the XI as the squad's central figure in the midfield, but he could have support from Guardado, Layun and Jonathan dos Santos.
The inclusion of the dos Santos brothers in the XI could give Mexico a much-needed creative spark, but Jonathan's presence in particular would allow El Tri to have more possession of the ball, freeing up space for "Gio," Fabian and Chicharito to use their speed up front.
Cesar Hernandez's XI (3-3-3-1): Guillermo Ochoa; Salcedo, Araujo, Moreno; J. dos Santos, Guardado, Layun; Jesus "Tecatito" Corona, Fabian, Hirving Lozano; Chicharito
Whether you want to call it a 3-3-3-1 or a 3-4-3, Osorio will likely be using a three-man back line against the United States. Moreno, Salcedo and Araujo are all strong candidates who could hold off a determined U.S. attack. As for Marquez, he brings an immense amount of experience, though there are growing worries about his lack of pace in Mexico's defense.
Guardado would be the key player in this setup, playing as the defensive midfielder for El Tri, while Chicharito, El Tri's lone striker, should have no problems finding the back of the net with plenty of support behind him.
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