Mexico World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistMay 12, 2014

Mexico World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament

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    For the second straight World Cup, Mexico will play in Group A along the host.

    This will be El Tri's 15th appearance in the tournament and their sixth successive. Like as has happened in previous competitions, the squad suffered some managerial changes throughout the process.

    Despite it all, Mexico secured a ticket to Brazil via a playoff against New Zealand. Now the players and staff are eager to put the past behind and make history.

    All data provided by MedioTiempo.com unless otherwise stated.

Road to the Finals

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    Mexico qualified to the Hexagonal after leading Group B of the third stage of the CONCACAF qualifier. It was the only unbeaten team of that phase.

    However, the Hexagonal was not as easy as it was supposed to be. El Tri won in the mythical Estadio Azteca until the penultimate matchday, against Panama.

    Mexico finished fourth with a 2-5-3 record, securing them a place in the two-legged playoff against New Zealand.

    In the first match, held at the Estadio Azteca, El Tri beat the Kiwis 5-1. The second game took place in Westpac Stadium and Mexico controlled the score again, 2-4, with a hat-trick from Oribe Peralta. 

    The 9-3 aggregate was more than enough for Los Verdes.

Full Squad

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    Hannah Peters/Getty Images

    Miguel Herrera announced Mexico's 23-man list on Friday May 9, 2013.

    Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul) and Alfredo Talavera (Toluca).

    Defenders: Carlos Salcido (UANL), Rafael Marquez (Leon), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen), Francisco Rodrguez (Club America), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Paul Aguilar (Club America), Diego Reyes (Porto), Miguel Layun (Club America) and Miguel Angel Ponce (Toluca)

    Midfielders: Carlos Pena (Leon), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Javier Aquino (Villarreal), Hector Herrera (Porto), Isaac Brizuela (Toluca) and Jose Juan Vazquez (Leon).

    Forwards: Giovani dos Santos (Villarreal), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), Oribe Peralta (Club America), Raul Jimenez (Club America) and Alan Pulido (UANL).

    You can check out Bleacher Report’s Mexico squad guide here: Mexico Player-by-Player Guide

Manager Profile

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    Miguel Herrera is one of the most charismatic Mexican managers. But before he coached any team he was a footballer.

    He played for Atlante, Santos Laguna, Queretaro and Neza, for a total tally of 381 appearances and 21 goals.

    After his retirement he decided to become a manager. In his 12-year career, he has been in charge of local clubs only: Atlante (twice), Monterrey, Veracruz, Estudiantes Tecos and America.

    His most successful tenure was with Las Aguilas, as he secured the 2013 Clausura title in a dramatic match against Cruz Azul at Estadio Azteca.

    El Piojo was appointed Mexico interim manager after the team was relegated to fourth place of the Hexagonal's general table, which left its World Cup hopes hanging from a thread.

    After defeating New Zealand, the Mexican Football Federation gave him the job permanently.

    Herrera has always favored the 5-3-2 formation, which usually provided flexibility and verticality to his squads; however, it has not been as good for Mexico.

    The fact that there is only one central midfielder puts a lot of stress on the defense, plus the forwards don't have as many goal opportunities.

    For this World Cup Herrera will have to pick between Juan Carlos Medina, Hector Herrera or even Carlos Salcido for this position, which can become El Tri's nightmare.

Star Man: Oribe Peralta

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    Hannah Peters/Getty Images

    Oribe Peralta is a late bloomer but has proved his worth on a regular basis.

    He was recently bought by Liga MX heavyweights Club America, which might not be very impressive if you take into consideration that Javier Hernandez wears Manchester United's jersey and Giovani dos Santos is a regular for Villarreal. 

    However, Peralta was the man behind Mexico's victory in the gold-medal match at the 2012 Summer Olympics; he netted two magnificent goals against Brazil.

    He was also a key player in 2013, when El Tri was going through a shaky period.

    From August to November Peralta scored 11 times, including Mexico's first goal on home soil at the Hexagonal.

    Brazil 2014 will be his first World Cup, and despite being a rookie in that department, he has already shown what he is capable of when the national team needs him.

1 to Watch: Carlos Pena

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    Christian Palma/Associated Press

    Carlos Pena has established himself as one of the most reliable midfielders of the Liga MX. He plays for Leon, where he secured the 2013 Apertura title.

    Pena can play in any of the flanks and even through the center of the pitch. His speed and fine touch allow him to create plays or finish them with the same ease.

    He is a very unbalancing footballer who can step into the box and shoot from close range. If he stays in the flanks, he sends deadly crosses and forward passes.

    If there is a Mexican player who can seal a deal with a European club after the World Cup, it is Pena.

World Cup Record and Statistics

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    Mexico has appeared in 15 World Cups. Their first one was Uruguay 1930, where they lost all their matches.

    El Tri took 28 years to grab their first point in the competition, when they tied to one goal against Wales in Sweden 1958.

    Mexico's first victory came in the following edition. They defeated Czechoslovakia 3-1 with goals from Isidoro Diaz, Alfredo del Aguila and Hector Hernandez.

    In 1970, Mexico became the first country from North America that organized a World Cup; they received the honor again in 1986. In both editions El Tri reached the quarterfinals, their best result in the tournament history.

    Since United States 1994 the team has not missed a single World Cup, and in all of them they have qualified to the knockout stage.

    Their best performance outside home turf was at Korea-Japan 2002, where they led Group G with a 2-1-0 record; they lost in the round of 16 to United States.

     

    Top scorer at World Cup finals: Luis Hernandez (four, in France 1998).

    Most appearances at World Cup finals: Rafael Marquez (12).

    Youngest player to feature at World Cup finals: Manuel Rosas (Uruguay 1930, 18 years, two months and 26 days).

    Oldest player to feature at World Cup finals: Cuauhtemoc Blanco (South Africa 2010, 37 years, five months and five days).

    Most World Cups played: Antonio Carbajal (five: Brazil 1950, Switzerland 1954, Sweden 1958, Chile 1962 and England 1966).

     

    Previous World Cup meetings:

    Mexico has never faced Cameroon.

    Brazil has beat Mexico three times: 4-0 at Brazil 1950; 5-0 at Switzerland 1954, and 2-0 at Chile 1962.

    Mexico defeated Croatia 1-0 at Korea-Japan 2002.

Group Fixtures

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    Michael Heiman/Getty Images

    Mexico vs. Cameroon

    June 13, 2014 (1 p.m. local)—Arena das Dunas, Natal

     

    Brazil vs. Mexico

    June 17, 2014 (4 p.m. local)—Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza

     

    Croatia vs. Mexico

    June 23, 2014 (5 p.m. local)—Arena Pernambuco, Recife