Mexico’s form in World Cup qualifying has been less than stellar. After qualifying for the Hexagonal based solely on goal difference, El Tri now finds itself in fourth place in the final qualifying group.
On its third manager in 17 months, Mexico desperately needs a victory. Javier Aguirre has recalled the veteran hands of Cuauhtémoc Blanco and Guille Franco to lead the attack for El Tri. The continued injury problems of Rafael Marquez puts pressure on the Mexican back four. Aaron Galindo could get the start but more likely it will be Jonny Magallón who scored twice last year in Houston versus the US.
Aguirre’s continued willingness to exclude Pavel Pardo from the El Tri setup is risky. But part of Aguirre’s challenge since taking over from Sven Goran Eriksson was to root out locker room cliques and factions, and it appears Pardo is a causality of this policy.
Gio Dos Santos used to Gold Cup to return from the international wilderness that developed after Aguirre’s hiring. Dos Santos can play out wide or up top, depending on the formation or player selection Aguirre chooses to employ.
Andres Guardado’s fitness is in doubt after picking up a knock late last week. But the left winger appears to be ready for the game talking about winning three to nill which is sure to stoke the flames further on this rivalry.
Carlos Vela remains the X-factor. The Arsenal man is dangerous on the counter attack and lively and energetic. But, the US defense acquitted itself well in the Confederations Cup against more seasoned and talented strikers than Vela. Thus, Vela despite his amazing second half performance against a US “B” team in the CONCACAF Gold Cup Final isn’t a lock to start in this game.
Aguirre may choose to use Vela late if needs an equalizer or a winner, while starting the safer and experienced Franco up top.
Here is my projected Mexico Lineup:
Juarez Magallon Osorio Salcido