Tata Martino is set to use two entirely different starting XIs in his games this FIFA window. Who will he send out on Friday in New Jersey?
Confirmed: Martino includes Chicharito, Guardado in XI
Mexico returns to action for the first time since lifting the Gold Cup with a Friday night friendly against the United States.
Manager Tata Martino is set to use two different XIs between this match and the Tuesday game against Argentina. There have been hints he’ll use a stronger team against the South Americans, but even if he uses a weaker team in the rematch of the Gold Cup final, it’s a squad that would include several World Cup veterans, many of whom are returning to the team after missing out on the Concacaf championship.
Just what will his lineup look like?
Below are three potential starting lineups Martino may use. Check back an hour before kickoff to see the team he’s selected.
Potential XI to face USMNT
This lineup blends some elements of Martino’s Gold Cup-winning squad with others who weren’t part of that team.
In goal, Jonathan Orozco continues to push for the No. 2 job with an opportunity to start in the rivalry match. Ahead of him, America youngster Jorge Sanchez starts on the right with a strong center-back pairing of Hector Moreno and Diego Reyes in the middle. On the left, Monterrey left back Jesus Gallardo, a fixture of Martino’s early squads, gets a run out.
The midfield is Mexico’s most competitive spot and Hector Herrera, while being one of El Tri’s most experienced players, likely needs to work his way back. The question is who will be in the middle, with only one player – Ajax’s Edson Alvarez – truly profiling as a 6. Either HH or Monterrey’s Carlos Rodriguez could get a chance at the spot in this game if Alvarez rests for next week’s contest. Andres Guardado also was part of the Gold Cup-winning squad, and should truthfully be in Martino’s A team. That said, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him get minutes against the U.S.
Up top, it’s a fearsome trident featuring Chicharito in the middle, Jesus Corona on the right and Roberto Alvarado on the left. Chicharito is Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, while Corona has plenty to offer the national team on the wing – where Martino sees him playing. Alvarado also was part of the Gold Cup squad, and while he may not be ready yet for a move to the European clubs who were rumored to be scouting him last tournament, he also gives El Tri a versatile player who can attack and provide defensive support when Gallardo gets adventurous.
This lineup also would allow players like Guardado, Chicharito, Herrera and Corona to return to their club teams after the game, rather than traveling on to San Antonio for a game in which they won’t play. That could be big for several of the players who haven’t yet consolidated their roles.
Modifications in the midfield
This lineup is mostly the same as the prior projection with some modifications in the midfield. It sees Jonathan dos Santos slot into the midfield, with Herrera potentially starting against Argentina. It also puts PSV midfielder Erick Gutierrez into the XI instead of Guardado. Guti has had a strong start to the season in the Netherlands, and he’s clearly the left interior midfielder of the future. It would be no surprise to see him in action in this game with Guardado going against Argentina.
Going with the A team?
This is probably the top team Mexico can offer right now, based on both form and experience.
Guillermo Ochoa is the No. 1 in goal, and at right back – with Chaka Rodriguez set to miss this contest – Miguel Layun comes back in. Moreno and Tigres center back Carlos Salcedo form the top center-back partnership, though Celta de Vigo’s Nestor Araujo also could work his way into the team. Gallardo seems the best option on the left.
In the midfield, Alvarez is definitely the best central midfield player Mexico has to offer, and his ability should only increase as he develops with Ajax. Herrera and Guardado around him are facing tough competition but win out thanks to their history in the team. Up top, Hirving Lozano and Rodoflo Pizarro are two of the most dangerous attacking players Mexico has, while Raul Jimenez – in incredible form with Wolves as he has been practically since signing on the dotted line to go to England – is the top No. 9.
Martino seems to be putting the priority on the other contest, but if he decides another big win over the U.S. is what he needs, this is the lineup he could utilize.
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