The team in green were the first North American side to qualify for the finals in Russia next summer and boast a host of exciting talent and an expansive style of play to match. They’re one of the countries you’re going to want to watch when June comes around so I’m here to inform you of the players that will be gracing the pitches of Moscow and get you ahead of the game when it comes to picking out the youngsters to watch. So, without further ado, here is more than you need to know about Mexico.
How did they qualify?
They breezed through the CONCACAF qualifying section, finishing five points above Costa Rica at the top of a 6-team table. Their usual challengers, the United States, ended up second bottom and so Mexico had no problems with making it to Russia.
Who will I recognise?
West Ham striker Javier Hernandez is the darling of Mexican football and has been since his move to Manchester United in 2010. ‘The Little Pea’ has made 99 appearances for his national team and has 49 goals to his name, that is one impressive scoring record. After a few months under David Moyes under his belt, he’ll be raring to go next summer. In fact, he’s probably yearning for the finals already. Former Arsenal winger Carlos Vela is also a firm favourite with the Mexican supporters and is capable of a moment of magic in the final third. Watford fans may remember Miguel Layun, the left-back helped the Hornets to promotion back in 2015 and scored on the opening day of the Premier League season against Everton. After that goal at Goodison, he moved out to Porto and has made a name for himself on the continent.
Who should I look out for?
One man who slipped through the fingers of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal is Hirving Lozano. The 22-year-old winger burst onto the scene with Pachuca in his native country and was tipped for a move to a top European club but this summer he made the understated switch to PSV in the Netherlands. Lozano has electric pace as well as an eye for goal, making him lethal up against slower defenders. If he impresses in Russia next summer, I’d be surprised if he starts next season at PSV. Another name you might not be familiar with is that of Hector Herrera. He’s an established player at Porto and is one of the stalwarts of this Mexican team. The central midfielder looks a bit like Gary Cahill and Angel Di Maria mixed together in case you want to identify him on the football pitch in Russia.
Who’s in charge?
Sadly for us, it’s no longer Miguel Herrera. The large and combustible character left the national team in 2015 and was replaced by Juan Carlos Osorio of Colombia. Osorio has had a bumpy start to life as Mexico manager. He was in charge for the country’s second worst defeat in their history (a 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Chile in 2015) and was handed a 6-match ban for ‘using insulting words’ and ‘displaying an aggressive attitude’ towards match officials earlier this year. Both of these incidents occurred at major tournaments so I look forward to what he has up his sleeve for the World Cup.
What’s their World Cup record like?
They are pretty consistent when it comes to their recent World Cup history. They’ve been knocked out at the last 16 stage in each of the last six World Cups. Before that their best finish has been the quarter-finals. However, their exciting team and passionate supporters always bring the entertainment factor to any World Cup.
And finally, have they got any chance of winning the World Cup?
If the trophy was handed out to the country with the best kit and national dress then Mexico have got a real chance. Sadly for them, it’s not.