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



Solely two months separate the Mexico men’s national team from their World Cup group-stage opener in opposition to Poland on Nov. 22. Earlier than the journey to Qatar, El Tri have two upcoming friendlies in California, in opposition to Peru (Sept. 24) on the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and in opposition to 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 harm worries, fan discontent and management points surrounded the group 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 just a few 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 high gamers out there for upcoming friendlies as they put together for the World Cup. As an alternative, he’ll now must proceed his groundwork with out a few of his high-profile names.

Martino stated star striker Raul Jimenez has “no likelihood” of enjoying this week due to harm. Martino made no ensures that the Wolverhampton Wanderers frontman can be on the World Cup both, stating that “I by no means thought we might be on this scenario. … I do have to provide it plenty 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 in opposition to Colombia. Houston Dynamo FC midfielder Hector Herrera can also be a doubt and is presently being evaluated by the medical group.

Along with the serious leg injury for Sevilla‘s Jesus “Tecatito” Corona in August that can seemingly maintain him out of the World Cup — though Martino did notice that they’re going to re-examine him in early October — Mexico now immediately have slightly over a 3rd of their finest XI not absolutely wholesome.

That now signifies that the following two video games can be key to find those that can step up as doable 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 assert minutes and push away any worries relating to 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 robust for Mexico, which has primarily been the final 12 months 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 turn into a speaking level, however is that essentially legitimate?

“They are saying there aren’t any leaders within the nationwide group, that is not true. They are saying it as a result of they’re on the lookout for the chief from the previous: the grouch, a scolder, the one who demonstrates, and that has modified,” stated captain Andres Guardado on Tuesday a couple of supposed lack of commanding names.

Guardado later made a very good level by recognizing that he prefers to be a extra open and approachable type of captain. As an alternative of meting out the “inflexible and chilly” conversations he handled as a youthful participant, he likes to be light-hearted and has been extra concerned within the transition of latest gamers into the squad.

That stated, there ought to most likely even be a transition into completely different leaders for Mexico as effectively. As essential 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 equivalent to 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 nearly appeared like a politician on Tuesday as he proclaimed that “within the hour {that a} Mexican has to shut ranks, all of us shut ranks,” however his affect as a frontrunner stays held to the online and never as a subject participant.

It is unlikely that we’ll immediately see the captain’s armband handed to a youthful identify over the following couple of friendlies, however there needs to be an ambition for level-headed or hard-working gamers like Edson Alvarez, Cesar Montes or Gutierrez to step up and doubtlessly 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 group: the quinto partido.

Translated to “the fifth recreation,” the saying marks a determined need 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 for the reason that 1994 World Cup, the truth that the group has gone by the same destiny in seven tournaments appears to represent a stagnation, and never development, for the nationwide group construction.

In the mean 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 2019-20 and never within the final 12 months or so — through which they’ve didn’t win the CONCACAF Nations League and Gold Cup, whereas additionally going 4 consecutive video games with out a victory in opposition to their U.S. rivals.

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



Herc Gomez cannot disguise 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 all the time give it some thought, but it surely’s one thing that we have to maintain calm in our heads, as a result of if we go there [to Qatar] with this in our minds, it isn’t good for us,” stated the midfielder.

It should be a superb steadiness between having an intention however not overthinking the aim, and within the strategy 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 effectively. He presumably had the funniest response, and even perhaps the right mindset, when requested what crucial issue to creating it to the fifth recreation was: “Successful the fourth one.”

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