Mexico and South Korea will meet in San Antonio, Texas on Wednesday, Jan. 29 for an international friendly. Both of these Brazil-bound teams will look to use this as an opportunity to get tuned up for the World Cup.
Mexico currently occupy the 21st spot in the FIFA world rankings and Korea Republic check in at No. 53. Despite their significantly higher ranking, it was Mexico who barely squeezed into the World Cup.
Mexico needed a playoff victory over New Zealand before punching their Brazil ticket.
South Korea had an easier time qualifying for the World Cup and did so for their eighth consecutive time.
This match is part of a mini tour for Hong Myung-Bo and his South Korean side. They took on Costa Rica in California and won 1-0 on this goal by Kim Shin-Wook:
They will also face the United States on Feb. 2 in California.
This tour has left South Korea without talents like Bayer Leverkusen's Son Heung-Min and Augsburg's Ji Dong-Won.
When: Wednesday, Jan. 29 at 9 p.m. ET
Where: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
TV: Univision Deportes, UniMas, ESPNNews
Key Storyline: Will Mexico continue to build momentum under Miguel Herrera?
As I mentioned, Mexico had a devil of a time qualifying for the World Cup. It wasn't until Miguel Herrera took over that Mexico beat New Zealand in the two-leg playoff to gain entry and started to produce some goals.
Had Mexico missed out on the World Cup, it was estimated that it would have been a $600 million disaster.
In light of that, it is not shocking that the struggles turned the manager position for El Tri into a revolving door. First, it cost Jose Manuel de la Torre his job. Luis Fernando took over and lasted one whole match before giving way to Victor Manuel Vucetich. Vucetich then quickly gave way to Herrera.
Herrera instilled a 5-3-2 look instead of the 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 El Tri had been running. To help the transition along, Herrera brought up 10 of his former players from Club America for the playoff against New Zealand.
That included leaving stars like Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos off the roster.
With strong performances from the likes of Oribe Peralta, the absence of the above-mentioned players did not matter.
Now, Herrera must try and keep this team producing. Although the roster for this friendly is going to look different than what he has available to him for the World Cup, he will get the opportunity to work more new faces into his system:
Miguel Herrera: The idea tomorrow vs. Korea Republic is to observe the players coming in for the first time -> hints on starting XI.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) January 29, 2014
Prediction: Mexico 3-1 South Korea
Given South Korea's intense travel schedule for this match and their lack of star power, I'm giving a big edge to Mexico.
Mexico will surely be working on different aspects of their game in this friendly, and the article from the below tweet does a good job at looking at some of those aspects:
Still, El Tri should put forth a strong effort to try and build on their momentum and earn a comfortable victory.