How Mexico Will Line Up Against South Korea
Mexico will start their preparation for Brazil 2014 on Wednesday, January 29 against South Korea. The game will take place at the Alamodome in San Antonio at 9 p.m. ET.
The Asian side will not travel with some of its best footballers, such as Ji Dong-Won, Son Heung-Min, Hong Jeong-Ho and Ki Sung-Yueng, since it is not a FIFA date.
Although El Tri was in the same situation, coach Miguel Herrera managed to cap Diego Reyes, who currently plays for Porto.
The 21-year-old centre-back is not getting much playing time with the Eagles, which is in great part the reason why he was able to join the team.
Although this could be a nonsense game to many, it actually gives Herrera the opportunity to assess some players who he hadn't called before, like Alan Pulido, Jorge Torres Nilo and Jesus Corona.
El Piojo's side needs to have a strong base of local players because they will play more games together.
There is only one FIFA date in the next five months, which means that the footballers playing overseas won't make it to the other friendly matches.
Let's take a look at Mexico's line up for the upcoming game.
Corona should get the starting position. He has proven to be a safe choice and a skilled goalie.
His aerial game may not be the best, but he has great reflexes and is far more experienced than Moises Munoz, Club America's keeper and first choice for the playoff against New Zealand.
Herrera will probably give Alfredo Talavera a chance in the second half, though.
There will be five defenders
On the left sideline, we will see Miguel Layun. His stride and accurate crosses set him as one of the players who bring more to the attacking zone. If he keeps playing like he has, there is no doubt that he will be the starting left-back in the World Cup. He will probably leave the game after 45 minutes, and Jorge Torres Nilo will take his place.
The only player from overseas is Diego Reyes, and he needs to prove that he is still in shape because there are other centre-backs who can be Herrera's first choice, like Hector Moreno. Despite his young age, Reyes has already played in the Confederations Cup showing his fine touch and tough mentality.
The captain also plays in the center of the box and he is no other than Rafael Marquez. The Leon defender is the classiest footballer in that position, and his experience makes him an obvious pick. He is also a fantastic leader and knows how to push his teammates toward organization and good results.
Although he is no longer the quickest or younger defender, Francisco Rodriguez is a man who has the trust of Herrera. Like Reyes, Rodriguez has to show his best throughout this process if he wants to play his third World Cup. Enrique Perez, a 25-year-old who plays for Atlas, could well take his place in the second half.
Paul Aguilar is a fantastic right-back who can control the ball, distribute it and help in the offense without compromising the defense in counterattacks. This could be his big break as he has not had much luck with Mexico. He didn't play in South Africa 2010 and was only summoned to El Tri once under Jose Manuel de la Torre's command.
Leon's Carlos Pena will take over the left side. He is a very valuable asset in the attacking zone because he can finish a play or pass the ball to the forwards. His speed is key in giving El Tri depth, and his technique and intelligence provide creativity. Isaac Brizuela is also a good fit in this position, so it would be no surprise if Herrera decided to send him in later in the match.
The center of the pitch will be in charge of Juan Carlos Medina, a tough and secure midfielder who can help the defense in stressful scenarios. He is also great with ball control, and he feeds balls to the flanks or the box with ease. Jesus Zavala could be a good sub for the second half.
Finally, Luis Montes. Also playing for Leon, Montes posses an enviable long-distance shot and speed that combined give Mexico the element of surprise from outside the box, plus he is a good dribbler. Rodolfo Pizarro could receive a chance but it seems like a long shot.
Oribe Peralta will play every game, and that is just a fact. He was Mexico's top scorer in 2013, putting the ball away 11 times from August to November. El Cepillo was named CONCACAF Player of the Year after his crucial performance in El Tri's qualification process. Peralta fights for every ball and takes his chances whenever he can. He is a complete player who can header or shoot from any distance.
Behind Peralta we will find Alan Pulido. The U-23 sensation scored five times in the 2012 Toulon Tournament and became the top scorer of the 2012 Olympic Qualifying Tournament with five goals. He has played with Tigres since he was a youngster, and, in the last tournament (2013 Apertura), he sent the ball to the back of the net nine times. Pulido is especially lethal in set pieces because he displays his aerial game. Inside the box he knows how to leave the defenders behind and shoot from close-range. Aldo de Nigris will also get a chance to play.
Miguel Herrera's 21-Man List
Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul) and Alfredo Talavera (Toluca)
Paul Aguilar (Club America), Diego Reyes (Porto), Enrique Perez (Atlas), Rafael Marquez (Leon), Francisco Rodriguez (Club America) , Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Club America), Miguel Layun (Club America), Jorge Torres Nilo (Tigres) and Miguel Ponce (Toluca).
Rodolfo Pizarro (Pachuca), Juan Jose Vazquez (Leon), Jesus Zavala (Monterrery), Juan Carlos Medina (Club America), Carlos Pena (Leon), Isaac Brizuela (Toluca) and Luis Montes (Leon).
Oribe Peralta (Santos), Alan Pulido (Tigres) and Aldo de Nigris (Guadalajara).