After Jose Manuel de la Torre, Luis Fernando Tena and Victor Manuel Vucetich left El Tri, the future of the team seemed uncertain. Under Miguel Herrera’s management, Mexico have had a different mindset, but the $64 million question is: Why?
First of all, Herrera capped 10 players from Club America, the team he coaches in the Liga MX. He won the Clausura 2013 tournament with Las Aguilas.
Since seven of those 10 are also starting with El Tri, El Piojo decided to use the system with which he is familiarized: 5-3-2.
The main issue with Mexico was that they did not have a clear strategy; they were predictable, the defense was very shaky and they couldn't finish crucial plays.
Now, Herrera has given them instructions on what he wants and how it can be done.
The 5-3-2 system is paying off. Carlos Pena and Luis Montes give the team different options and goal opportunities.
The Leon midfielders are fast, they can distribute the ball or they can help the forwards in the attacking zone. This turns into depth and creativity.
Meanwhile Juan Carlos Medina commands the center of the pitch. He is a veteran with a 10-year career in professional football. His most valuable assets are ball control and distribution.
For Herrera, playing through the flanks is a must, and that is why he brought Paul Aguilar (right-back) and Miguel Layun (left-back).
Aguilar and Layun are a great support for the forwards. They send crosses from the sidelines and give depth.
The defense is getting better by the minute. One of the best decisions Herrera has made so far is bringing Rafael Marquez back to the national team.
Marquez leads not only the defense but also the team. He can handle the pressure from the rivals in style, and he still has a fantastic touch, especially in long passes.
We cannot overlook the forwards. Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez are the best Mexican scorers of the Liga MX. Peralta put the ball away nine times, while Jimenez scored seven.
Moises Muñoz has not had a lot of work, but he has proven to be a very save goalkeeper throughout his 14-year career.
Another thing that Herrera has brought to the table is enthusiasm. He gets excited and celebrates like few coaches do.
When he was appointed Mexico coach, the squad’s mindset was worse than it had been in years. Herrera’s personality has been a blessing in disguise.
In a moment where El Tri need to put up their best performance, because the World Cup is at stake, it seems like "El Piojo" has found the way to turn things over.
It is almost a fact that he will repeat the lineup in the second leg of the playoff, and he should.
Other than some little mistakes from the defense, Herrera has it covered. Mexico have to come out and play just the way they did at the Estadio Azteca.
Taking advantage of the aerial game and creating goal opportunities through the flanks.