After a suffered win over Panama, Mexico is ready to visit Costa Rica in hope to secure a spot in the playoff against New Zealand, which gives the last ticket for Brazil 2014.
It will not be an easy feat, though. Los Ticos have a 4-3-2 record, which includes an unbeaten run on home soil (four games).
El Tri showed some improvement against Panama. Victor Manuel Vucetich made some interesting changes in the starting lineup, which helped the team in creativity and depth, but there’s a lot of room for improvement.
Now, with the responsibility to draw or win the last game in the Hexagonal, Vucetich should tweak his XI for this crucial match.
Guillermo Ochoa has to be the first choice again. It is true that he should have done a better job in Panama’s goal, but he had a couple of important saves.
Another thing to consider is that the manager must give continuity to the goalkeeper if he did not make a serious mistake or is not showing mindset issues.
This is Mexico’s weakest line. Rafael Marquez was superb in the last game but he needs another centre-back who can help him.
Hugo Ayala was not the best choice, so we will definitively see a change in this position. Hiram Mier can be a good replacement. He has played from the right flank with El Tri before, but he is a tough centre-back with his club.
Jonny Magallon can also be an option. He plays with Marquez in Mexican club Leon, which has one of the best defenses of the Liga MX.
Miguel Layun has to step up if he wants to continue as the starting right-back. He was great when he decided to go forward and attack, but then he struggled defending.
Jorge Torres Nilo will be the left-back. Like Layun, he is great when he helps the wingers and forwards. His fitness is fantastic but he needs to calm down a bit or he will be sent off quickly.
Vucetich made a bold change against Panama. He put Javier Aquino on the left and Giovani dos Santos on the right. The result was not disastrous but it could have been better.
Aquino has not been at his best with El Tri since the Confederations Cup. He is not strong enough and is out of pace.
Luis Montes is in great shape and has a mean touch for long-distance shots. He is also very good with ball possession.
We will see two central midfielders: Carlos Peña and Jesus Zavala. Both of them were beasts against Panama.
Peña took advantage of his strength and fitness to put the defenders in distress. He was very helpful in the attacking zone.
Zavala was very focused. He held off the Panamanians in style and was the perfect link between the offense and the defense.
Dos Santos has a lot of talent and is El Tri’s most creative player but he is not showing it with Mexico lately.
He may be going through a great moment with Villarreal but if he cannot be a factor on the pitch he should leave his place to someone else.
Fernando Arce is great in this position. He is an undisputed starter with Xolos because he knows how to keep the ball and feed it to the strikers. Plus, he is a game changer.
Arce can assist, like he did for Raul Jimenez against Panama, or finish a play.
Chicharito has to stay on the bench. It is obvious that the lack of play with Manchester United is hurting him.
Vucetich must go with Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez. They have scored half of the goals for Mexico (six).
Peralta is a fighter. He runs all over the pitch if he has to. He does not give up and takes advantage of every chance he has.
Aside from his unbelievable bicycle kick goal, Jimenez is going through a great moment with America. He is fast, unbalancing and does not even need to see the goal to know where it is.