Outright odds: 200/1
To win group: 9/1
To qualify: 11/8
Full squad: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Guillermo Ochoa (Ajaccio), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Rafael Marquez (Leon), Diego Reyes (Porto), Hector Moreno (Espanyol), Paul Aguilar (America), Carlos Salcido (Tigres), Francisco ‘Maza’ Rodriguez (America), Miguel Layun (America), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen), Jose Juan Vazquez (Leon), Juan Carlos Medina (America), Hector Herrera (Porto), Carlos Pena (Leon), Luis Montes (Leon), Marco Fabian (Cruz Azul), Isaac Brizuela (Toluca), Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna), Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), Raul Jimenez (America), Alan Pulido (Tigres), Giovani dos Santos (Villarreal).
Manager: Miguel Herrera
World Cup record: Twice quarter-finalists (1970, 1986), five-time last 16 (1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010)
Mexico have have been eliminated at the last 16 stage in the last 5 tournaments but this time they will be thankful for a chance to make the knockouts after a tumultuous qualifying campaign and a fairly tough group draw.
With Brazil looking a class ahead, a battle for second with Coratia – ranked just one spot below them – is going to be no easy task with only Cameroon realistically discounted if taking the word (or numbers) of FIFA as gospel.
Making it to Brazil is the ultimate objective but had it not been for a big helping hand from their border partners America, scoring twice against Panama to put them into a playoff spot where they wee thankful for the chance to be drawn against New Zealand, whom they beat 9-3 under the watchful eye of Miguel Herrea, their fourth managerial appointment in 6 weeks during a tumultuous and frankly awful campaign when they also used 47 different players.
Herrera’s usage od domestic players seems to have given them a timely boost and with a 5-3-2 formation making the most of some considerable talents upfront, there could be a chance for us to see the Mexico side that was so impressive when taking the gold medal at the Olympics last year – no more than 6 of the players who started that final game against Brazil are in the squad selected.
However, they go to Brazil without their best forward option as Carlos Vela – now a grown up footballer in every sense following a fine time of things in Spain – is still refusing to play after a suspicion in 2010 for disciplinary issues. That said, they are well stocked with replacements. Oriba Perralata scored 5 in the playoff against New Zealand but had scored 5 in the group stages and 17 league goals for Club America this season bodes well for him going well through the tournament – as he will have to do. Javier Hernández, who performed very well 4 years ago, would start for many here but he must do battle with Giovanni Dos Santos for a second attacking spot.
In the midfield, Leon’s Carlos Pena is a fascinating player, having impressed for Leon and already racked up 15 caps at the age of 24 along with seven league goals, while Dynamic box-to-box midfielder Hector Herrera impressed with his energy and incisive passing as part of Mexico’s Olympic gold medal-winning side in 2012 although he may sit deeper than he did 2 years ago.
Defensive performance is a potential worry however – since the third qualifying round Mexico have kept just the one clean sheet, a 1-0 win against Jamaica, and in a group where all the contenders have strong forward sections, it will be imperative that the 5 defenders keep a tight guard – Miguel Layun especially likes to Maura forward and have a shot or two so say the least and every one of Rafel Maqurez’s 121 caps are going to be needed if they’re to make the last 16 this time around.