Mexico: Analyzing El Tri's Preparation Matches Ahead of the World Cup
Mexico are ready to start their preparation ahead of this summer's World Cup, and so far, the Mexican Football Federation has confirmed five friendly games.
El Tri will face Nigeria, the United States, Ecuador, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Portugal before heading to Brazil.
The idea is to play against teams that have similar conditions to those in Group A—Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia.
Let's take a look at them and see how they'll help Mexico en route to the World Cup.
When: March 5, 2014, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Ga.
This will be the only FIFA date during the preparation process, so Miguel Herrera has already capped eight European-based players: Hector Moreno, Guillermo Ochoa, Javier Hernandez, Giovani dos Santos, Javier Aquino, Hector Herrera, Diego Reyes and Andres Guardado.
Nigeria will be the closest rival to Cameroon. This is a key match because Mexico's opening game in Brazil will be against the Indomitable Lions.
The greatest asset of the Eagles is their physicality, which will test El Tri's fitness and strength.
The key is to keep the ball as much as possible. The Africans have very fast players who can put the defense in distress with runs through the flanks, including Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses, and others who can create plays and finish them inside the box, such as Ejike Uzoenyi.
The defense is Nigeria's weakest link. Mexico need to work tight in the midfield, with accurate passes.
When: April 2, 2014, 11:00 p.m. ET
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Although Mexico will not face a CONCACAF team in the World Cup group stage, the United States have always been a challenging rival.
El Tri haven't won in the U.S. since 2011, when they lifted the Gold Cup at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, Calif.
More than a tactical game, this should be a confidence booster for Miguel Herrera's side, as well as another chance to try some of the footballers from the Liga MX.
Jurgen Klinsmann's side has evolved quickly. The mobility, verticality and accuracy have been key in this transformation, as they have proved to be effective and lethal.
When: May 31, 2014, TBD
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Ecuador is supposed to be somehow similar to Brazil. There is an obvious distance between both squads, but it was the best South American team available.
So, what can Reinaldo Rueda’s side offer? The answer is simple: a lot of speed and physicality, especially through the flanks.
Jefferson Montero and Antonio Valencia are the men to follow. They provide depth to the team and have fantastic ball touch. Almost every dangerous play comes from their boots.
Unfortunately, Ecuador lack structure in the defense, which will allow Mexico to exploit their flying full-backs and wingers.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
When: June 3, 2014, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Soldier Field, Chicago, Ill.
This will be the first time Bosnia will appear in a World Cup as an independent nation. From 1930 to 1990, they were part of Yugoslavia.
Despite their lack of maturity, Bosnia rely on two heavyweights in the attacking zone: Edin Dzeko and Vedad Ibisevic.
Meanwhile, Zvjezdan Misimovic runs the midfield, from where he can feed balls to the forwards or distribute to Miralem Pjanic and Senad Lulic.
This is an organized and hard-working squad that tends to keep the ball in the midfield because they are not that strong in the back line.
The aerial game will be key in this match. El Tri's defenders will have to be at their best.
Mexico have faced the Dragons two times and have won both of them.
When: June 6, 2014, 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
The toughest rival will be Portugal and Mexico need to take this match seriously because it will be the most demanding.
Portugal, like most of the European teams, pass the ball quickly. Miguel Veloso is the man who links the midfield with the offense, providing balls to Nani, Hugo Almeida and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Joao Moutinho and Raul Meireles stand next to Veloso in an attempt to help in the attacking zone.
Despite Helder Postiga's goal-scoring knack, it is Ronaldo who crafts and finishes most of the plays.
The defense is in good hands too. Bruno Alves and Pepe play in the center of the box, while Joao Pereira and Fabio Coentrao cover the flanks; it is not rare that the last two run through the sidelines.