Big questions earlier than Mexico’s pre-World Cup friendlies

Solely two months separate the Mexico males’s nationwide workforce from their World Cup group-stage opener towards Poland on Nov. 22. Earlier than the journey to Qatar, El Tri have two upcoming friendlies in California, towards Peru (Sept. 24) on the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and towards Colombia (Sept. 27) at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

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Main into the video games, there have been few indicators of Mexico shaking off the rust that made World Cup qualifying and former friendlies a strenuous ordeal for supervisor Gerardo “Tata” Martino and his roster. Throughout a information convention on Tuesday, themes of damage worries, fan discontent and management points surrounded the workforce which have only one win of their final 5.

Mexico have been removed from their finest, and with the hopes of them gaining some much-needed confidence this month, listed here are a number of questions that proceed to linger above them earlier than the World Cup.

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Will ill-timed accidents hang-out Mexico?

Ideally, Martino would have his prime gamers accessible for upcoming friendlies as they put together for the World Cup. As a substitute, he’ll now need to proceed his groundwork with out a few of his high-profile names.

Martino stated star striker Raul Jimenez has “no chance” of enjoying this week due to damage. Martino made no ensures that the Wolverhampton Wanderers frontman will probably be on the World Cup both, stating that “I never thought we would be in this situation. … I do have to give it a lot of thought.”

Whereas with the squad, Jimenez is doing restoration coaching alongside Ajax Amsterdam’s Jorge Sanchez and Monterrey duo Rogelio Funes Mori and Luis Romo, who’re all set to depart camp earlier than the sport towards Colombia. Houston Dynamo FC midfielder Hector Herrera can also be a doubt and is at present being evaluated by the medical workforce.

Together with the intense leg damage for Sevilla’s Jesus “Tecatito” Corona in August that may probably hold him out of the World Cup — though Martino did word that they’re going to re-examine him in early October — Mexico now out of the blue have somewhat over a 3rd of their finest XI not totally wholesome.

That now implies that the following two video games will probably be key find those that can step up as potential replacements. Backups like Henry Martin, Santiago Gimenez, Diego Lainez, Orbelin Pineda, Erick Gutierrez, Luis Chavez, Kevin Alvarez and others ought to all get alternatives to say minutes and push away any worries concerning accidents. That stated, if options do not come up, the skepticism round El Tri will solely develop stronger earlier than the World Cup.

Is there an El Tri management void?

When issues have gotten powerful for Mexico, which has primarily been the final yr or so, many followers and media have yearned for old style leaders just like the eccentrically brash Cuauhtemoc Blanco or the extra stoic and resolute Rafael Marquez.

A perceived lack of strong-willed steering has change into a speaking level, however is that essentially legitimate?

“They say there are no leaders in the national team, that’s not true. They say it because they are looking for the leader from the past: the grouch, a scolder, the one who demonstrates, and that has changed,” stated captain Andres Guardado on Tuesday a few supposed lack of commanding names.

Guardado later made a superb level by recognizing that he prefers to be a extra open and approachable sort of captain. As a substitute of meting out the “rigid and cold” conversations he handled as a youthful participant, he likes to be light-hearted and has been extra concerned within the transition of recent gamers into the squad.

That stated, there ought to most likely even be a transition into completely different leaders for Mexico as nicely. As necessary as Guardado is within the locker room, the identical cannot be stated on the pitch the place he’s now not a assured member of the beginning XI. Different veterans reminiscent of Herrera and Hector Moreno are additionally on the cusp of being changed, if not already, of their beginning positions.

Guillermo Ochoa is an unquestionable member of the XI, and virtually seemed like a politician on Tuesday as he proclaimed that “in the hour that a Mexican has to close ranks, we all close ranks,” however his affect as a pacesetter stays held to the web and never as a discipline participant.

It is unlikely that we’ll out of the blue see the captain’s armband handed to a youthful title over the following couple of friendlies, however there must be an ambition for level-headed or hard-working gamers like Edson Alvarez, Cesar Montes or Gutierrez to step up and probably be new guiding forces into the World Cup.

And what about that quinto partido?

It is a nationwide obsession that’s synonymous with the nationwide workforce: the quinto partido.

Translated to “the fifth game,” the saying marks a determined want for Mexico to qualify for the quarterfinals of the World Cup — and thereby enjoying a fifth recreation — after beforehand exiting within the spherical of 16 for seven consecutive tournaments.

As spectacular as it’s that Mexico has all the time gone previous the group stage because the 1994 World Cup, the truth that the workforce has gone by means of the same destiny in seven tournaments appears to represent a stagnation, and never progress, for the nationwide workforce construction.

In the intervening time, stagnation resulting in regression appears to be extra related for El Tri. Martino himself admitted that he believes his squad had been enjoying at their finest by means of 2019-20 and never within the final yr or so — during which they’ve did not win the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup, whereas additionally going 4 consecutive video games with no victory towards their U.S. rivals.

Time is operating out for him to steer Mexico again on observe and probably attain that fifth recreation, but when there’s any glimmer of an opportunity that it might occur, convincing outcomes towards Peru and Colombia could be large steps in the proper route.



Herc Gomez cannot cover his love for the brand new Mexico away equipment and coaching jacket.

On the trail in the direction of doing so, Alvarez opened up on Tuesday about Mexico’s squad visualizing that quinto partido.

“We always think about it, but it’s something that we need to keep calm in our heads, because if we go there [to Qatar] with this in our minds, it’s not good for us,” stated the midfielder.

It may be a high-quality stability between having an purpose however not overthinking the purpose, and within the means of combating for the accomplishment, two wins would work wonders in constructing confidence earlier than the World Cup.

Jimenez spoke concerning the quinto partido as nicely. He probably had the funniest response, and even perhaps the right mindset, when requested what a very powerful issue to creating it to the fifth recreation was: “Winning the fourth one.”