On paper, the Mexicans look to have it tough in Group A, alongside the hosts Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon. However, their familiarity with South American conditions means that they should be ruled out with peril.
United eyes will be fixed on Javier Hernandez, who will doubtless be looking to impress on the biggest stage after another season of frustration at Old Trafford.
I caught up with close friend and avid United fan, Ted Hall, whose expertise in the South American game can be attributed to his Mexican roots, raised in Veracruz. He is a studious watcher of South American football and gave me the Mexican perspective on their prospects in Brazil.
Realistically, how far can Mexico go in Brazil?
Mexico have got a very tough group to get out of. They have a lot of players in the squad that ply their trade back home, so will be better accustomed to more tropical conditions, so for that simple reason I expect them to cope with Croatia. They haven’t got much hope against Brazil. Cameroon came out of their qualifying group very strongly but against some very poor teams.
Add to that the fact that their squad is ageing, it should make for a good contest. It won’t be pretty but they could and should make it out of the group of they play to their very best. Past that, I can’t see them reaching any further.
Who should we look out for besides Javier Hernandez?
Now of course, no one can deny themselves a small amount of admiration for Rafael Marquez. The man is an enduring testimony to Mexican football. He reached grand heights in his heyday with Barcelona but even now, the people have taken to him again at Leon. He’s no world beater at 35 but he will certainly bring a wealth of class to a very inexperienced squad composed of home-based players. He and Carlos Salcido will certainly organise well. Other than these two, the talented Marco Fabián should be one people should keep an eye on.
How is Hernandez still received by the Mexican public? He is their main man, so is the pressure being put on him having an adverse effect on his performances for Mexico?
Mexico idolise Chicharito. He’s their third highest goalscorer and has an amazing international record. He’ll play the lone forward for the best part of their campaign and provided he can keep onside and get the service, Mexico’s counter attacks could be lethal. There will almost undoubtedly be pressure on him to deliver as there is clearly no other proven, stand out talent to lead the line. He’s had a poor season at United where he may have regressed under Moyes but he does still have that predatory instinct which they will rely on immensely. One may even say that Mexico’s hopes to progress rest firmly on their ability to provide good service to Hernandez or dos Santos.
Which other Mexican players in their 23 could we see in the Premier League soon? Why do you think we have only seen a few Mexicans in the Premier League? Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos, Carlos Vela, Pablo Barrera and Salcido spring to mind, but with varying degrees of success?
It’s been pretty difficult for Mexican players to establish themselves in the Premiership for a great number of years, you see very few coming through a Mexican apprenticeship and then later being scouted for a European club. Even fewer are scouted as kids, the dos Santos boys being an exception. Perhaps they find themselves physically limited. They’re generally technical players and can cope with the speed of the British game but simply not the physicality.
I can’t ever see the likes of José Juan Vazquéz winning a physical battle with Gareth Barry let alone against Yaya Touré. Out of their 23, I could only really see their goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa being signed by a Premiership club. He’s a great acrobatic keeper with decent distribution. Probably more style than substance but could suit a lower mid table team. Realistically though, we are more likely to see a greater influx of American ‘soccer’ players in the coming years than any of the 23 man squad. Dos Santos is better suited to Spanish football, as was Carlos Vela who was questionably omitted from the final squad.
Has Javier Hernandez got a point to prove to Louis Van Gaal and will the see the tournament as a chance to put himself in the shop window? Speculation suggests he is seeking pastures new.
Hernandez certainly does have a point to prove. Having been in the dark under Moyes, tactically misused and having had his confidence unceremoniously stripped by his manager’s comments about the squad, I think the only person he needs to convince of his worth is himself. Right now, he could get an inexpensive move to a reputable Spanish club and reestablish himself as one of Europe’s leading marksmen.
If the deal for Diego Costa comes off with Chelsea, Atlético are going to want to sign another poacher to replace him. Hernandez could be a 90 minute player right now for any respectable Spanish team but for United, he’s better suited right now to being an impact player. It all depends now on whether he wants game time or to make a difference in matches, to get the glory for being a game changer. Sadly, I think he wants game time and with RvP, Rooney and Welbeck all in front of him in the pecking order and with youth breathing down his neck, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to think he might just choose to jump ship.
Stretty News would like to thank Ted for his contributions and taking the time to answer the questions.
You can follow Ted on Twitter – @TJBH