Mexico may have defeated Israel 3-0, but the result is far from being hopeful. Instead, El Tri left several doubts 15 days before their debut in Brazil 2014.
Miguel Herrera used his typical 5-3-2 formation, which included some adjustments in certain positions.
Andres Guardado took over the center of the pitch, leaving his role as a winger/left-back behind. It was tough for him as he struggled and, at times, felt lost.
The 5-3-2 system is a double-edged sword: On the one hand, it gives a lot of verticality and speed to the squad; On the other, it compromises the midfield because the player responsible for making a connection with the attacking zone can be overpowered easily.
The central midfielder needs to be in great shape, have defensive skills and create plays, a tough task for someone who has never taken that role.
This formation puts a lot of distress in the back line, where Rafael Marquez and Hector Moreno will have to be extra careful because the third centre-back could be Carlos Salcido or Diego Reyes.
Salcido is not at his best, despite his experience, while Reyes is fast and strong, but has yet to prove himself with the senior team.
The defense needs to work better and be tighter. There's a lot of room for improvement, especially in counter-attacks.
If a team that didn't make the World Cup demonstrated how weak the link is between the defense and the midfield, they've exposed some serious problems their opponent must address as soon as possible.
Another thing that Herrera needs to consider is the speed at which Mexico is playing. They are fast and dynamic, but they are not generating anything.
All the goals were the result of long-distance shots. Miguel Layun's brace was great, but in all fairness, Israel goalkeeper Ariel Harush messed it up both times.
The team played better in the first half, especially when Cuauhtemoc Blanco was on the pitch. The worrying part of all of this is that El Cuau is a 41-year-old footballer who was playing his farewell game.
Yes, that was Mexico's best player, the one who touched the ball in style and distributed accurately. Blanco helped the team slow down a bit, when everybody was running around the pitch with no clear idea of what to do once they had the ball.
Let all of the above sink and then think of Cameroon, Brazil and Croatia.
They are strong and fast teams. Their game on the midfield is fierce and they create goal opportunities constantly.
Herrera has two options, either he finds an ideal central midfielder soon or he starts to try other formations.
Perhaps you will say that not all the players on the pitch will be on the starting XI against Cameroon. You are right. Just don’t forget that this is not the first time Mexico’s defense and central midfielder have been overpowered, even playing with the European-based footballers, like against Nigeria earlier this year.
Two weeks before the World Cup we are addressing the same issues we were discussing in February.
With three preparation games ahead (Ecuador, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Portugal), Mexico must start playing at least with a substantial number of footballers who will be on the starting XI.
The individual efforts are not being enough, let alone the teamwork.
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