5 Key Questions for Miguel Herrera Ahead of Mexico's World Cup Opener

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2014

Mexico coach Miguel Herrera gestures to his players during the first half against Bosnia-Herzegovina in an international friendly soccer match at Soldier Field in Chicago, Tuesday, June 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

Miguel Herrera faces the biggest challenge of his 13-year coaching career. The first step toward success is defeating Cameroon in Mexico's World Cup opener, but not all doubts have been dispelled.

With the World Cup ticket in his bag, Herrera managed to shape an interesting side, with a good mix of experience and youth, but also with some critical picks.

So which are the key questions for El Piojo ahead of Mexico's expected World Cup debut?


Why Was it So Tough to Make a Decision About the Starting Goalkeeper?

Mexico had always had great players in goal. From Antonio Carbajal to Oswaldo Sanchez, the starting goalkeeper had been a locked position for years, not this time.

Herrera had three fine options to pick from: Guillermo Ochoa, Jesus Corona and Alfredo Talavera.

It seemed like Talavera didn't have a big shot at, especially because Moises Munoz seemed to have secured his spot in the squad as he had been Herrera's first choice with Club America and in the two-legged playoff vs. New Zealand.

However, Munoz was excluded and Talavera made the World Cup team and he even got a chance against Bosnia.

But the real race was between Corona and Ochoa. 

The Cruz Azul footballer had already proven his skills at the 2012 Summer Olympics, where he not only won the gold medal, but he also wore the captain's armband.

He had a fantastic final match at the CONCACAF Champions League, where he denied Toluca the title more than once thanks to his dives and saves.

On the other hand, Ochoa has faced some of the most lethal strikers in world football, such as Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Also, he was named Ajaccio's Player of the Year in his first two seasons in the Ligue 1 (2011–2012 and 2012–2013).

The choice was so tough that Herrera even asked the starting defenders how they felt about both goalkeepers, as reported by Spanish-language football website MedioTiempo.com.

He also alternated them to see who had better moves, confidence and attitude. In the end, Miguel Herrera confirmed that Ochoa will start against Cameroon.


Which Will Be the Toughest Task Against Cameroon?

The midfield will be the key. The strength and speed of the Indomitable Lions is the weapon to unbalance El Tri.

The central midfielder Juan Jose Vazquez is most likely to be that man and, he needs to be focused and sharp to cut Cameroon's attack. 

The Africans' physical condition is their most valuable asset and they know it. Mexico must take control of the game soon.


Which Is Mexico's Advantage over Cameroon?

Ball possession is fundamental. Since the Indomitable Lions are faster and stronger, El Tri need to have the ball as much as possible.

Mexico have to create plays little by little, from the goal to the last third of the pitch, with fine touch and accuracy.

The Mexicans have better technique than the Cameroonians and they need to show it.


How Will the 5-3-2 System Help El Tri?

The verticality and dynamism that this formation provide to the team will be a factor. Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar need to be atop and provide as much depth as possible in order to surprise the defenders from the flanks.

The system also allows the footballers to play more freely and risk taking their chances, especially from outside the box.

If Rafael Marquez helps Vazquez in the midfield and the squad keeps the ball as much as possible, expect El Tri to command the game.



Why Is this Game Crucial?

Mexico face Brazil in the second match, which will probably be the toughest game for them.

Having said so, a win against Cameroon will be a major confidence booster for Herrera's side and it couldn't arrive at a better moment.

It will also serve to loosen up and get a real feel of the team's functionality, piece things together and polish whatever is needed.

Score-wise, this is the game that Mexico is more likely to win and they surely need those three points if you consider that aside from Brazil, they'll play against Croatia in the last match of group stage.

Mexico don't have an easy road ahead and so they need to take advantage of the first game.



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