Mexico qualified for the 2014 World Cup by a hair, but won't be dwelling on their poor play during CONCACAF qualification as they gear up for Brazil this summer.
After being banned in 1990, El Tri have now reached their sixth consecutive World Cup, but will be looking to advance past the round of 16 for the first time since 1986, when they reached the quarterfinals on their home soil.
Currently ranked 19th in the world, Miguel Herrera's side will head to South America with diminished expectations. Still, there's immense potential for Mexico to succeed, as noted by United States' star Landon Donovan, via MLS on Twitter:
Although El Tri landed in Group A, which features the host nation, Brazil, they will have a great shot to advance and reach the knockout stage. Croatia and Cameroon comprise the rest of the group, and although Mexico's recent form has raised concerns, improved chemistry and motivation could spark the North Americans through the group stage.
Herrera has made it clear that his side will play "determined" football in Brazil, per Goal.com:
Mexico is going to be an aggressive team that plays with determination. (El Tri will be) a very dynamic side that controls the ball well, wins the ball back well and has great mobility to attack the opposition.
With the stage set for another thrilling World Cup, let's take a look at Mexico's roster situation ahead of June's tournament and project which players will take the pitch for El Tri's opening match against Cameroon.
World Cup 2014 23-Man Roster
|M||Jose Juan Vazquez|
|M||Juan Carlos Medina|
|F||Giovani Dos Santos|
As mentioned, Mexico will rely on some familiar faces in Brazil.
Captain Rafael Marquez headlines the 23 men heading to South America this June. The 35-year-old defender has made well over 100 appearances for El Tri since 1997 and brings leadership and experience to the lineup.
Oribe Peralta is another marquee addition for Herrera. The 30-year-old Santos Laguna striker scored five goals in two matches against New Zealand last November and netted 16 total through his first 29 appearances with the national team. Peralta will be joined by gifted playmakers Giovani dos Santos and Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez.
Based on Herrera's 2014 selection, Mexico will have a legitimate shot to escape Group A and make a run through the knockout stage if they can play up to their potential. But as we've witnessed in the past, that remains a huge if.
Projected Starting XI
|M||Giovani dos Santos|
Although Herrera opted to shake things up for Mexico's World Cup qualifying playoff against New Zealand in November, you can expect to see some experienced names in the starting XI in Brazil this summer.
Goal scorers and creative forces like dos Santos and Chicharito are simply too valuable to be left on the sideline. The dynamic duo have combined to make 130 appearances and score 49 goals for El Tri.
Peralta is another critical factor. He's been a goal-scoring machine on the international stage of late and can propel Mexico to new heights this summer if he can continue to deliver in the final third.
Defensively, Marquez should be called on to anchor El Tri's back line as few players headed to Brazil have as much experience. Having his leadership on the pitch from the outset will be key.
Looking ahead, Mexico has to feel good about their chances of making noise in Brazil. Although the hosts are clearly the class of Group A, El Tri have the talent on board to challenge for the No. 2 spot. After all, neither Croatia nor Cameroon have been beyond the group stage since the 1990s.
With the ideal blend of experienced players and young talent, Mexico will look to surprise football pundits with an eye-opening run this summer.
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