Mexico have only reached the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup on two occasions, both times when they were the hosts in 1970 and 1986. A volatile nation in terms of their football, once again Mexico head into a World Cup in the middle of a heated national debate about the quality of the team and the coaching staff, and full of doubts about their ability to reach the quarter-finals again. However, their confidence should be high this time around, as they easily topped their qualifying group, and their team of quality, experienced players has been bolstered by some talented rising stars. The opportunity is certainly there for Mexico to end their streak of six consecutive World Cup last 16 exits.
If you look at the Mexican team and the players at their disposal, you can see that they have no shortage of attacking talent, yet it could well be their defence that becomes their undoing. Their favoured tactic is possession-based, keeping hold of the ball and dictating the pace and rhythm of the game, however, their shaky defence could severely struggle when put under pressure by dominant or high-pressing teams of the likes of Germany, who Mexico face in their first group game.
- Javier Hernandez (West Ham United) – Although Hernandez has been hit and miss since joining West Ham, he is Mexico’s all-time top goalscorer and remains their most potent man in attack. While technically gifted and a clinical finisher, Hernandez’s real talent lies in his ability to get into positions where he can poach goals from defensive mistakes or keeper errors. With the Mexican style of play consisting of possession and high-pressure, this may turn out to be a very lucrative World Cup for him.
- Andres Guardado (Real Betis) – Still only 31 years of age, Guardado has 143 international caps, and captains the team from midfield. He is the player that orchestrates the Mexican style of play, controlling possession in the midfield, and pressing forward to apply high pressure to opposition defences. Against the more technically-gifted sides however, Guardado may have to use his experience to drop into a deeper role and guide his team’s shaky defence.
Juan Carlos Osorio – Osorio was Stuart Pearce’s assistant at Manchester City, before moving on to his native Columbia to start his managerial career, from which he moved to Mexico, Brazil and then the United States. He has won four league titles in Columbia, and was appointed as head coach of the Mexico national team in October 2015. His main challenge in Russia will be finding a way to balance his overly attacking-heavy team to solidify their shaky defence in big games against dominant opponents.