Key Dilemmas Facing Mexico in World Cup Clash with Brazil
Mexico has always been a tough rival when it faces Brazil. El Tri proved against Cameroon that they have more coordination and fluidity than ever before, but coach Miguel Herrera can surely improve his side's functionality.
The substitutions are the obvious dilemma, as the players who came in during the opening game were not as connected as those who had been on the pitch from the start.
Mexico also lacked the surprise factor through long-distance shots, which always test the goalkeeper's reflexes and open a good window of opportunity to score when the defense is locked up.
El Tri have to fight hard and take advantage of their great momentum.
Javier Hernandez, Raul Jimenez or Alan Pulido?
The attacking zone is defined; there's no question about that. Oribe Peralta and Giovani dos Santos finally showed that they can partner to create an unbalancing offensive attack.
However, the substitutes are not as clear. Against Cameroon, Javier Hernandez came in for Peralta in the 74th minute but couldn't do much. Despite creating several opportunities for his teammates, he didn't make a difference in the score.
Miguel Herrera has two more options in Alan Pulido and Raul Jimenez. Both strikers have proven to be ready to tackle the challenge.
Chicharito may be more experienced, but it is clear that his knack for goalscoring is not as sharp due to his lack of playing time, while Pulido and Jimenez are undisputed starters with their clubs.
Marco Fabian or Carlos Pena?
Andres Guardado will not finish the game against Brazil because he is not as physically fit as he used to be.
El Principito proved he still has what it takes to craft plays and feed balls to his teammates, but when it comes to taking him off the pitch, Miguel Herrera has two options: Marco Fabian and Carlos Pena.
Fabian debuted in the opening game against Cameroon, and although he was fast and ferocious, he had a hard time when he had to create opportunities for Giovani dos Santos and Javier Hernandez.
Pena is the kind of footballer who knows how to keep the ball, cut into the box and, once there, decide whether he should pass the ball or finish the play himself.
Also, the Leon midfielder is a lot more technical than Fabian, so he could be a better option against Brazil.
Should Rafael Marquez Play Behind the Central Midfielder?
Rafael Marquez is a beast no matter where he plays. He can join the attack in set pieces, proving his aerial game is still sharp, or in his natural position as a center back.
However, Marquez is no stranger to providing support to the midfield, especially under Miguel Herrera's 5-3-2 system.
The Leon footballer has the option to stand behind Jose Juan Vazquez to relieve some of the pressure he gets, because on paper, he is the only man in the center of the pitch.
But against Brazil, Marquez will also come in handy inside the box alongside Hector Moreno and Francisco Rodriguez.
Neymar, Hulk and Fred will put Mexico in distress with their speed and technique. Oscar will also be a thriving force through the midfield.
Marquez could very well play as a center back and anticipate when Brazil charges.
Slow Down Through the Flanks?
Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar have become wing-backs rather than a left back and a right back, respectively. They usually run all the way to the goal line from where they cross.
In the meantime, Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera also work through the flanks, but they cut into the box and send diagonals hoping to create clear goal opportunities for the forwards.
Miguel Herrera's side has proven to be lethal thanks to the verticality it has accomplished.
However, both Layun and Aguilar need to come back quick to their defensive labors in counterattacks, or else the center backs have a tough time holding off the rival.
This also opens a lot of space, which Brazil won't waste, especially through the right flank, as it did against Croatia.
FIFA.com reported that 62 percent of the host's attack originated from that side in the inaugural match.
What About Long-Distance Shots?
Miguel Layun is one of the most accurate players when it comes to shooting from outside the box.
In the warm-up against Israel, he scored twice thanks to his well-educated right foot. It's a move that Layun uses on a regular basis with Club America too.
Marco Fabian also has that ability, and he still didn't take advantage of Cameroon's weak defense, especially when he came in.
Miguel Herrera needs to encourage his players to take their chances from outside the penalty area. It will give the team more diversity on offense, which it will need against the host.