10 Things You Need to Know About Miguel Herrera's Mexico

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistJune 8, 2014

10 Things You Need to Know About Miguel Herrera's Mexico

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Miguel Herrera's Mexico managed to qualify for Brazil 2014 despite their tortuous qualifying process. After seven months of hard work, he is ready to tackle the biggest challenge in his 13-year coaching career.

    El Piojo has called up 44 players since he took over El Tri in October 2013. In order to select the best, he relied on specialized software that edits and classifies the statistics of hundreds of thousands of plays.

    The warm-up period was very important because he played half of with local-based footballers, as there was only one FIFA date from November to March.

    In May, he finally had all his players on Mexican soil, and they were all ready to fight for a starting position.

    Here are 10 things you need to know about El Tri .

10 Players from the 2012 Summer Olympics Squad

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    Mexico will travel to Brazil with 10 players from the squad that secured the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics.

    Jesus Corona, Carlos Salcido, Diego Reyes, Miguel Ponce, Hector Herrera, Marco Fabian, Javier Aquino, Raul Jimenez, Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta are among the 23 players making up El Tri's squad in Brazil this summer.

    In the Olympic tournament, each of them proved that they have both the talent and mentality to overcome anything.

    They will be key during the World Cup, and at least five of the players will be starters.

El Tri Will Face Cameroon in a World Cup for the First Time

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    Mexico is the nation with the most appearances at the World Cup that has yet to win the tournament.

    After 14 World Cups, El Tri had never faced Cameroon. However, they did meet in a friendly game held in Los Angeles in 1993.

    In that match, coach Miguel Mejia Baron's lineup included some of the most legendary Mexican players, such as Jorge Campos, Raul Gutierrez, Manuel Vidrio, Marcelino Bernal and Missael Espinoza.

Mexico Secured Their World Cup Place Through a Playoff

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    Theoretically, Mexico should have won all their games at the Estadio Azteca during the Hexagonal.

    Instead, they tied three, lost one (against Honduras for the first time ever) and defeated Panama with a miraculous bicycle kick from Raul Jimenez.

    The away games were just as tough. Mexico only secured five points after defeating Jamaica and tying with Honduras and Panama.

    Mexico snatched a place in the continental playoff after the United States beat Los Canaleros in an exciting game that saw both Graham Zusi and Aron Johansson score in injury time.

    El Tri defeated New Zealand with a 9-3 aggregate score in the two-legged playoff to secure their 15th World Cup appearance.

Miguel Layun Is a Real Threat

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    Miguel Layun impressed during hi debut with El Tri at the 2013 Gold Cup. The Club America footballer proved to be a lot more than just a defender.

    Layun can play on either flank with fantastic results. He can kick the ball with both legs, although his right foot is privileged.

    He is very fast, which is one of the reasons why he fits perfectly in Miguel Herrera's 5-3-2 system.

    Layun was a key factor during the warm-up fixtures, scoring a couple of goals against Israel and helping the team to break through their rivals' defense.

    He will be a driving force in Brazil.

None of the Goalkeepers Have Played in a World Cup

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    Ivan Pierre Aguirre/Associated Press

    Miguel Herrera has three fantastic goalkeepers at his command, and yet none of them have appeared in a World Cup match.

    Jesus Corona made it to Germany 2006 but stayed on the bench as understudy to Oswaldo Sanchez.

    Corona has proven to be a trustworthy keeper, especially after his performance at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

    Guillermo Ochoa traveled to Germany as the third-choice goalkeeper, and four years later, it seemed like he was going to be the starter in South Africa. However, coach Javier Aguirre went with Oscar Perez.

    Alfredo Talavera has never made a World Cup squad, but he successfully defended Mexico's goal at the 2011 Gold Cup.

Oribe Peralta Is the Key Man in the Attacking Zone

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    Javier Hernandez may be the player from Manchester United, but Oribe Peralta is the forward who has delivered better results in the past 10 months.

    Peralta scored 11 goals from August to November, including five in the two-legged playoff against New Zealand. His performances earned him the Most Valuable Player award (CONCACAF).

    El Tri's No. 19 is a complete footballer who scores, assists and creates open spaces for his teammates.

    At 30, Peralta may be a late bloomer, but he is hitting his peak at present.

Rafael Marquez Is the Team's Leader

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    Rafael Marquez has the experience and talent to wear the captain's armband, but his presence on the pitch makes a difference to the team.

    Marquez has always been the kind of player who communicates with the goalkeeper and the other defenders, and his leadership is a key factor for Mexico.

    He missed the match against Bosnia due to an injury and El Tri's back line suffered. Marquez stood up several times to give his teammates instructions.

    Another great asset is that he can play as a defensive midfielder, plus he joins the attack in set pieces.

    In what will surely be his last World Cup, the Leon centre-back will definitely make a difference.

The 5-3-2 Formation Will Not Change

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    Chris Covatta/Getty Images

    Miguel Herrera has felt comfortable with the 5-3-2 formation since his days coaching in the Liga MX and has implemented the same system with El Tri since taking charge.

    In the two-legged playoff against New Zealand it made a lot of sense because the squad included 10 Club America footballers, whom he coached before being hired to manage Mexico.

    In the warm-ups it was tougher, especially in the midfield, because he needed to try players from other clubs and include the European-based footballers.

    Little by little, Mexico have adopted it successfully. The friendly against Portugal proved that the team is more fluid.

The Team Had Four Coaches in Less Than a Year

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    The Hexagonal was a mess for El Tri: The team finished with a 2-5-3 record, with only one victory at the Estadio Azteca and another in Jamaica.

    Jose Manuel de la Torre tried to make the squad work, but he was fired in September 2013 after failing to win the Gold Cup, not advancing to the Confederations Cup knockout stage and losing to Honduras for the first time on home soil during the Hexagonal.

    Luis Fernando Tena took over for the game in front of the United States, but Mexico lost again 2-0. 

    The Mexican Football Federation decided to bring Victor Manuel Vucetich. He only coached two games: Mexico's sole win at the Estadio Azteca and a defeat against Costa Rica.

    Miguel Herrera, who was enjoying great results with Club America, was appointed to lead the El Tri in the two-legged playoff against New Zealand.

    He was offered the job permanently after securing Mexico a place in the World Cup.

Two Players Will Miss the World Cup Due to Injury

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    Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

    Juan Carlos Medina was Miguel Herrera's first choice as the central midfielder before he injured his right ankle in a training session in Mexico City.

    Medina has never played at a World Cup despite debuting with El Tri in 2004. Miguel Angel Ponce took his place on the team.

    When everything seemed to be fine, Luis Montes broke his leg in the warm-up game against Ecuador.

    The Leon midfielder went for the ball and bumped with Segundo Castillo, resulting in a fracture of the fibula and tibia.

    Villarreal footballer Javier Aquino traveled from Shanghai to Chicago to cover his place.