Chile vs. Mexico: Previewing La Roja and El Tri's Vital 12 Months Ahead

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Chile vs. Mexico: Previewing La Roja and El Tri's Vital 12 Months Ahead
Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Chile and Mexico both played superbly at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with both sides reaching the round-of-16 stage and looking unfortunate to be knocked out.

La Roja outplayed Brazil for long periods but ultimately lost in a cruel penalty shootout, while El Tri fell to the Netherlands despite taking the lead and dominating for long stretches.

Let's preview these two sides as they begin the next phase.

 

Chile's 2015 Copa America charge

Chile's greatest move of the summer was to tie down manager Jorge Sampaoli for another tournament, as the next 12 months are huge for the federation and he's the right man to guide them through.

The 2015 Copa America is being hosted on home soil and, with Brazil ailing and Argentina reloading under Gerardo Martino, La Roja have a reasonable chance of winning the whole thing.

@stighefootball
Possible Chile 3-4-1-2/3-4-3

Sampaoli's Chile are one hell of an attacking force, and that's not expected to change; with such a small group of players in the national pool, even an experimental XI will look vaguely familiar to the masses.

As it happens, Sampaoli has called up most of his big-hitters. Jorge Valdivia has retired from international duty following the World Cup, and Felipe Gutierrez misses out through injury, but otherwise the likes of Arturo Vidal and Alexis Sanchez are present.

Expect the same 4-3-3/3-4-3 approach to football we saw in Brazil, with key men playing from the start; there's no time to mess around with the Copa America so close, and there's not an awful lot to toy with in terms of options anyway.

 

Mexico's fresh look

Mexico, too, have the 2015 Gold Cup to prepare for, but Miguel Herrera is using this friendly to experiment wildly with some more obscure options.

Four uncapped players—Erick Torres, Oswaldo Alanis, Luis Venegas, Miguel Angel Herrera—have been called up to "La Seleccion" as the coach goes without a few key players.

@stighefootball
Possible experimental Mexico 3-5-2.

Raul Jimenez and Javier Hernandez have been given time to sort out their club futures having both just moved to Spain's capital, while Rafa Marquez has been left in Verona to settle in Italy too.

The 3-5-2 formation will remain as long as Herrera is in charge—he lives and dies by it, no matter the XI—and it will be a case of attempting to slot new players into what is now seen as a well-oiled system.

The good news for El Tri fans is that Herrera has successfully switched squads already, having picked an all-Liga MX team for the playoff against New Zealand and then gradually bringing back the European stars. If an overhaul is needed, he can carry it out successfully.

 

Same issues haunt Chile

Chile's midfield is superb, with Vidal among the best central midfielders in the world, but the defensive selections are very uninspiring.

A crumb of comfort can be found in Gary Medel's move from Cardiff City to Internazionale, placing him at a much higher level from week to week, but Gonzalo Jara's move to Mainz puts his playing time in jeopardy.

FIFA
The midfield pressing is great, but past that the defence is suspect.

Francisco Silva, a player who came in and added much-needed height during the World Cup, has left La Liga to play for Club Brugge in Belgium on a season-long loan deal. Miiko Albornoz has won a good move to Hannover to play in the Bundesliga, but he's a wing-back, and Chile are actually fine in that position.

The feeling about Chile is they simply have to outscore every opponent they play, and being so vulnerable in the defensive third (particularly in the air), they're bound to slip at some stage.

 

Key pieces for Mexico

The late nature in which Herrera "fixed" Mexico ahead of the World Cup has fans rightly optimistic over what he can do in the space of a year. With a fresh four-year deal under his belt, per Craig Hope's Mail Online report, he should be under no immediate pressure and looks guaranteed to take the team to the Copa America.

In Brazil several key pieces in his side emerged, with Jose Juan Vazquez a lynchpin in defensive midfield, Giovani dos Santos a conduit for the ball in attack, Hector Herrera a superb box-to-box presence and Marquez a pillar in defense.

Michael Steele/Getty Images

El Tri have some excellent options for the long-term at the back, so Marquez's age won't be a bother, and it's easy to wonder if this team would have dispatched the Netherlands in Brazil had Vazquez not been suspended.

Ultimately, it's a case of more of the same for Mexico as they move through the gears. After a down year in which they ceded superiority to the United States, there's every chance they're the stronger side again in 2014.

 

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