B/R Exclusive: Alberto Garcia Aspe Previews Mexico Ahead of the World Cup Debut

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistJune 11, 2014

11 Jan 1996:  Alberto Garcia Aspe of Mexico trips over Cornelius Huggins of St. Vincent during a game.  Mexico won the game 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn  /Allsport
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Mexican football legend Alberto Garcia Aspe talked with Bleacher Report about Miguel Herrera's starting XI ahead of El Tri's debut against Cameroon in Brazil 2014.

The former Mexico international played three World Cups (United States 1994, France 1998 and Korea-Japan 2002), wore La Verde 109 times and scored 21 goals from 1998 to 2002.

Garcia Aspe is currently a commentator of Fox Deportes' La Ultima Palabra.


Bleacher Report: Let's talk about the biggest doubt throughout the process—the goalkeeper.

Alberto Garcia Aspe: It's clear that Guillermo Ochoa will start. The three goalkeepers had a fantastic level, but Miguel Herrera finally made up his mind and chose Ochoa.

I believe he earned it after his performance in the Portugal warm-up because he was in control. I saw Jesus Corona a little shaky, maybe because of the injury he suffered against Israel.


B/R: What about the defense? Mexico will start in the center of the box with Hector Moreno, Rafael Marquez and Javier Rodriguez; the latter has been widely criticized.

AGA: Yes, definitively. He didn't have his best season (with Club America), and he has not been so consistent, but Herrera trusts him. Also, he has experience; he has played two World Cups.

Diego Reyes didn't keep the level that the manager was expecting, and that tipped the scale to El Maza's side. There weren't many options either.

I hope he has a good start so he can go back to his old self.


B/R: Juan Jose Vazquez will be the central midfielder, a tough task when the coach plays with a 5-3-2 system.

AGA: He had a great performance against Portugal but I cannot say if he is the right man to start in a World Cup, he needs to prove himself throughout the tournament.

Juan Carlos Medina had locked that spot, then he got injured, and Herrera had to try his players in different positions until he found El Gallito.

He has won the Liga MX title twice and has been a key player with Leon. So far with El Tri, he has fulfilled the expectations, obviously a World Cup is different, and we'll have to wait and see.

Herrera has other tactical options, like pushing Rafael Marquez a bit to the front so he can become a second defensive midfielder, letting Vazquez move with a little more freedom.

The midfield is a line of three that will continue to get a lot of help from Miguel Layun (LB) and Paul Aguilar (LB).


B/R: Mexico have had speed, depth and creativity, but it's been hard for the team to score. What do you think of the Oribe Peralta-Giovani dos Santos partnership?

AGA: Peralta hasn't been sharp, and that's something that happens to all strikers. However, he is the kind of player who can get back in shape easily. Herrera has boosted his confidence, and that's key.

Many thought that Javier Hernandez was going to play along with Peralta because together they put pressure on the defenders, while Dos Santos doesn't do it.

But Dos Santos is a very different kind of player. He provides depth and unbalances on a regular basis.

It's very important for Mexico that Peralta scores against Cameroon so he can recover his knack.


B/R: Do you see any kind of pressure?

AGA: Not really. I think the starting goalkeeper was the biggest issue, but now that it's been solved, I don't see any kind of stress.

I see a very united team with a lot of confidence, despite the little time they had been working together. It's key that they start with a good result because it's a very short tournament.


B/R: Many people believe Cameroon is the easiest rival on the group, but Mexico is also the most accessible opponent for them.

AGA: There's no easy rival in a World Cup. Everybody keeps saying that Cameroon will be the easiest, and I really don't know if that's true.

It's a team with great players, and it has cohesion. Also they won a disagreement with their Federation, which will force them to do well in the competition.

They have a commitment because of that, and it's going to be very complicated for Mexico.


B/R: What will be harder for Mexico against Cameroon?

AGA: Cameroon has very fast players, and Mexico need to be very focused in counter-attacks. Set pieces will also be key, against Portugal we lost in the stoppage time in a free kick, so the players need to pay attention.


B/R: Is it possible to grab points vs. Brazil?

AGA: No game is lost. It doesn't matter if it's the host, the favorite or anything. Mexico have been a tough rival when they face Brazil.

El Tri has won more times in the past years. I understand that this is a different scenario, but I'm convinced that if Mexico have a good result against Cameroon, they'll be confident for the match vs. Brazil.


B/R: The game with Croatia will be crucial, without a question.

AGA: Yes. But I also want to see what they do in the opening match; there's a lot at stake. Croatia will be a complicated rival; they have very talented players, like Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric.

They have tall players, and their aerial game is superb; hence, the Mexican defense must be sharp.


B/R: Which is Mexico's advantage over the rest of the teams in Group A?

AGA: They are a real group. Mexico don't rely on a particular player, instead they are a team. They have had the ball, they know how to move through the pitch and the only thing that is missing is finishing the plays, which I'm sure they will this Friday.


B/R: Can Mexico advance to the quarter-finals?

AGA: I don't know. It's complicated to say. I'd love to see them in farther stages. Herrera had very little time to work with the team, so we need to wait and see. One game at a time.


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