Mexico’s pre-World Cup tour of the USA begins on Saturday, as Miguel Herrara’s side meet Ecuador at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
After signing off from their homeland in style with a 3-0 win over Israel on Thursday, the Mexicans’ attention now turns to the South American nation, who will be looking to build momentum ahead of taking to World Cup 2014’s Group E in Brazil.
With Thursday’s friendly acting as a farewell for the retiring legend Cuauhtemoc Blanco, the serious business now stars for a Mexico side that will also face Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Portugal before their opening World Cup match against Cameroon.
Venue: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Date: Saturday, May 31
Time: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
TV Info: ESPNews/Univision (U.S./Mexico only)
Live Stream: ESPN Player (U.S. only)
Herrera Looking to Establish Starting XI
Mexico come into Saturday’s friendly in outstanding form, going unbeaten in their last six matches—according to SoccerWay—and keeping three clean sheets out of their last four.
In spite of that recent spell, Mexico manager Herrera remains adamant that there is plenty of room for improvement, per Goal.com:
“There are still distractions. We must continue this coordination, the movements that we want are things that we will be correcting.”
During Mexico’s midweek triumph over Israel, though, not a lot looked like it needed correcting as Herrera’s side dominated from the first whistle against the Israelites.
In a party atmosphere at the Azteca Stadium, two Miguel Layun goals and a late Marco Fabian strike gave Mexico the comprehensive victory that their football deserved.
That's it! Mexico send Blanco off with a 3-0 win in his final international appearance for El Tri. Layun had two goals and Fabian added one.— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 29, 2014
In a starting line-up shaped around the retiring Blanco, striker Javier Hernandez was left on the bench, though he came on to good effect after half-time and will likely be in action from the start against Ecuador.
Another player sitting out was Hector Herrera, whose injury forced his manager to rest him in Mexico City on Thursday, though he’s hoping that the central midfielder will be fit on Saturday—as reported by Goal.com:
We hope that when we get to Dallas to train, [Herrera] arrives at the stadium having recovered well, but there is no hurry if the doctor says that he is not 100 percent. We hope that on Saturday we have a full team, then we can begin to see others and begin to make decisions about who are going to be the core of the team.
The side that Mexico manager Herrera uses in Saturday’s friendly with Ecuador, then, will likely indicate the starting line-up for his side’s Group A clash with Cameroon on June 13.
The fully fit Porto star would undoubtedly be part of the Mexico core that his manager speaks of, though coming back from injury against the brutish Ecuadorians may not be a wise move.
Reinaldo Rueda’s side’s previous best at a World Cup was reaching the last 16 in 2006, where they had a narrow 1-0 defeat to England.
However, they’ve showed in recent months that they have what it takes to mix it with the world’s elite and progress even further than that this time around.
Though they’ve only won two of their last six internationals—per SoccerWay—they’ve shocked the world with some stunning results against highly rated opposition.
In recent matches against Uruguay, Argentina and the Netherlands, Ecuador have remained unbeaten—winning one and drawing two.
May 17’s 1-1 draw with the Dutch summed up the way that Rueda has got the South Americans playing, dictating large spells of the match and only conceding thanks to a moment of brilliance by Robin van Persie.
If Ecuador can once again show why they’re serious contenders to advance from the World Cup’s Group E, then Mexico will have their work cut out in Arlington.
However, with the Mexicans harbouring some remarkable talent in their ranks, you’d have to fancy Herrera’s side. If they can demonstrate their fast-paced, exciting, attacking style, then Ecuador’s back line will surely crumble.
Prediction: Mexico 2-1 Ecuador