Team Profile: Mexico
- Coach: Javier Aguirre
- Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (America), Luis Michel (Guadalajara), Oscar Perez (Jaguares)
- Defenders: Rafael Marquez (Barcelona/Spain), Ricardo Osorio (Stuttgart/Germany), Francisco Javier Rodriguez (PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands), Carlos Salcido (PSV Eindhoven/Netherlands), Hector Moreno (AZ Alkmaar/Netherlands), Paul Aguilar (Pachuca), Efrain Juarez (Pumas), Jonny Magallon (Chivas), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres).
- Midfielders: Andres Guardado (Deportivo La Coruna /Spain), Gerardo Torrado (Cruz Azul), Israel Castro (Pumas).
- Forwards: Guillermo Franco (West Ham/England), Carlos Vela (Arsenal/England), Giovani Dos Santos (Galatasaray/Turkey), Pablo Barrera (Pumas), Adolfo Bautista (Chivas), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Veracruz), Alberto Medina (Chivas), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)
Style of play: Coach Javier Aguirre usually employs a 4-3-3 formation, but with a dearth of quality forwards at his disposal, look for him to switch to a 4-2-3-1 setup. In this system, ball-winning midfielders Gerardo Torrado and Israel Castro line up in front of the back four and serve as the first line of defence. Creativity in midfield will be supplied by Guillermo Franco, who will operate in the hole behind the lone striker, Javier Hernandez, while Giovani dos Santos and Andres Guardado will try to open up the opposing defence by cutting in from the sides or delivering dangerous crosses from the wings to Hernandez. If Aguirre reverts to the 4-3-3, Efrain Juarez will move from right-back to play as a third defensive midfielder, while dos Santos and Guardado would operate as pure wingers on either side of Hernandez.
1st round matches:
- June 11 vs. South Africa in Johannesburg
- June 17 vs. France in Polokwane
- June 22 vs. Uruguay in Rustenburg
Projected starting lineup (4-2 -2-1): (GK) Guillermo Ochoa - (D) Efrain Juarez, Carlos Salcido, Ricardo Osorio, Rafael Marquez - (M) Gerardo Torrado, Israel Castro, Giovani dos Santos, Andres Guardado, Guillermo Franco - (F) Javier Hernandez
- Winnable opening game: Mexico has the pleasure of playing hosts South Africa in the tournament opener. All the pressure will be on the Bafana Bafana, allowing Mexico to simply play their game and concentrate on collecting three points. A win on opening day could send Mexico on their way to the second round.
- Coaching: Javier Aguirre has turned this team around since taking over midway through the qualifiers. A tactically astute manager, Aguirre has the respect of his players, manages to routinely get the most out of them, and is flexible enough to stray from his game plan and switch formations when the situation calls for it.
- Just like home: Mexico is used to playing at high altitudes, so the mountainous cities of South Africa won't be a problem at all, and will give them a bit of advantage against their opponents.
- Midfield depth: Coach Javiere Aguirre is plagued by an alarming lack of depth in the middle of the park, with only five midfielders to call upon. Some of the defenders, such as veteran Rafael Marquez, can be called upon in an emergency situation, but the team's lack of outright midfielders is a big problem.
- Who will start up front?: Mexico haven't found a suitable replacement for Jared Borgetti, their all-time leading scorer, ever since he announced his international retirement. Guillermo Franco and Carlos Vela aren't outright strikers, Javier Hernandez is inexperienced and Miguel Sabah is missing through injury.
- World-class talent: Mexico has enough talent to beat CONCACAF's best, but not to defeat the very best at the World Cup. Many of their top players are with big pro clubs, but are not regular starters. And they don't have a single player whom you would consider a game-breaker.
Players to watch:
- Guillermo Ochoa - Ochoa's talents combine tremendous athleticism with shrewd defence management. Like other goalkeepers who excel at a young age, Ochoa isn't afraid to grab an older defender by the scruff of the neck when the opposition is putting on pressure. A goalkeeper who wows the crowd, Ochoa has become famous for his gravity-defying saves.
- Rafael Marquez - Even though Marquez is sometimes consumed by his fiery temper - which leads to heated encounters with players and referees - the 31-year-old is a cerebral defender who can play anywhere at the back because he reads the game and can anticipate an attacker's desire.
- Carlos Vela - Vela's quickness, dribbling ability and versatility (he can play either as a forward or a winger) has seen him earn comparisons to retired Arsenal legend Dennis Bergkamp.
Key injuries/squad omissions: Striker Miguel Sabah is missing from the squad after picking up a tendon injury. Aldo de Nigris, another striker, was overlooked by Aguirre. Midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos was dropped from Mexico's preliminary roster. Defensive duo Juan Carlos Valenzuela and Adrian Aldrete were also cut.
Prognosis: First-round exit or second round. Mexico may rule the roost in CONCACAF, but when it comes to the World Cup, El Tri have historically under-achieved: they've only reached the quarter-finals twice (both times on home soil) in 13 appearances. That won't change in South Africa. A lot of critics are pegging the Mexicans to progress from Group A, but it won't be easy, especially against the host nation, a France side looking to reclaim its spot among the elite, and a Uruguay team back at the World Cup for the first time in eight years. Mexico will be involved in a tight, three-way battle for second place and may sneak into the second round. But if they do, that's as far as they will go. They don't have the talent to break through to the quarter-finals.
ROAD TO SOUTH AFRICA
- Current FIFA ranking: #17
- Qualification route: Mexico defeated Belize in a two-game playoff in the second round of CONCACAF qualifying. The Mexicans then finished first in Group 1 of the semifinal round and second in the final group stage of the CONCACAF qualifiers (19 points) behind the United States (20 points).
- Key to qualification: Blend of youth and experience. Coach Aguirre has built a team that features healthy competition for roster spots thanks to an effective mix of experienced veterans (Rafael Marquez, Carlos Salcido and Cuauhtemoc Blanco) and talented youngsters (Andres Guardado, Giovani dos Santos and Guillermo Ochoa).
- Crucial result: An emphatic 4-1 win over El Salvador (Oct. 10 in Mexico City) wrapped up a World Cup berth for the Mexicans with one game left in the final round of the CONCACAF qualifiers.
- Qualifying record: 18 games played, 11 wins, 2 draws, 5 losses
- Goals for: 36
- Goals against: 18
- Top goal-scorer in qualifying: Jared Borgetti and five other players (3)
Qualifying results: (home team listed first)
- June 15, 2008 - Belize 0, Mexico 2
- June 21, 2008 - Mexico 7, Belize 0
- Aug. 20, 2008 - Mexico 2, Honduras 1
- Sept. 6, 2008 - Mexico 3, Jamaica 0
- Sept. 10, 2008 - Mexico 2, Canada 1
- Oct. 11, 2008 - Jamaica 1, Mexico 0
- Oct. 15, 2008 - Canada 2, Mexico 2
- Nov. 19. 2008 - Honduras 1, Mexico 0
- Feb. 11, 2009 - United States 2, Mexico 0
- March 28, 2009 - Mexico 2, Costa Rica 0
- April 1 2009 - Honduras 3, Mexico 1
- June 6, 2009 - El Salvador 2, Mexico 1
- June 10, 2009 - Mexico 2, Trinidad and Tobago 1
- Aug. 12, 2009 - Mexico 2, United States 1
- Sept. 5, 2009 - Costa Rica 0, Mexico 3
- Sept. 9, 2009 - Mexico 1, Honduras 0
- Oct. 10, 2009 - Mexico 4, El Salvador 1
- Oct. 14, 2009 - Trinidad and Tobago 2, Mexico 2
- Number of World Cup appearances: 13
- All-time record: 45 games played, 11 wins, 12 draws, 22 losses
- Goals for: 48
- Goals against: 84
- Biggest victory: 4-0 vs. El Salvador in 1970
- Biggest defeat: 6-0 vs. West Germany in 1978
- Overall top scorer: Luis Hernandez (4 goals)
- Most appearances: Antonio Carbajal (11 matches)
- Hosted the World Cup: 1970, 1986
World Cup track record
- 1930 - First round
- 1934 - Did not qualify
- 1938 - Did not enter
- 1950 to 1966 - First round
- 1970 - Quarter-finals
- 1974 - Did not qualify
- 1978 - First round
- 1982 - Did not qualify
- 1986 - Quarter-finals
- 1990 - Did not enter
- 1994 to 2006 - Second Round
- FIFA member since: 1929
- Team nickname: Los Tricolores, El Tri
- All-time caps leader: Claudio Suarez (178)
- All-time leading scorer: Jared Borgetti (46 goals)
- CONCACAF Championship: 1965, 1971, 1977
- Gold Cup Champions: 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009
- Confederations Cup Champions: 1999
- CONCACAF Under-20 Champions: 1962, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1990, 1993
- Under-17 World Champions: 2005
- Hugo Sanchez: Sanchez was a star with Spanish club Real Madrid during the 1980s. Renowned for his celebratory somersault after scoring a goal, Sanchez is one of the top scorers in the history of the Spanish league. He helped Real win five consecutive league titles from 1986-90, finished as the leading scorer in La Liga for four consecutive seasons and scored 207 goals in 283 games.
- Antonio Carbajal: A legendary Mexican goalkeeper who is only one of two players (Lothar Matthaus of Germany is the other) to appear in five World Cups (1950-66). Played in 48 games for Mexico during his career.