After a trying year in which El Tri stuttered into fourth place in the CONCACAF qualification group, earning a spot at this summer’s festivities in Brazil by way of thrashing minnows New Zealand, Mexico have experienced a relatively steady 2014.
Victories over South Korea, Isreal and Ecuador alongside this past weekend’s tight 0-1 defeat to Portugal have given Miguel Herrera’s side some encouragement ahead of the upcoming Group A clashes with Cameroon, Croatia and the tournament hosts.
After a difficult season at Old Trafford, Manchester United’s Javier Hernandez may have to settle for another supporting role this time for his country but with his future at the club in the balance, this summer could prove crucial if the striker hopes to earn a place in Louis van Gaal‘s plans.
We managed to sit down with Mex Soccer Show host Wiso Vasquez and co-host Jonny Rico Aviles to discuss Mexico’s World Cup chances and what we should expect for Hernandez. Here is what Wiso had to say.
Qualifying for the World Cup didn’t go exactly to plan for El Tri; they drew five times and only got through after thrashing New Zealand in a playoff. Simply put, what happened?
Many people are still scratching their heads regarding El tri in 2013. Simply put; Chepo de La Torre and his inability to adapt to Hexagonal play. During the last round, teams qualify by the number of points acquired in 10 games. This translated into many teams playing mexico simply to tie and take away points at home. It took 6 games for Chepo to notice his strategy wasn’t working. By the end, The FMF decided to change coaches 3 times until the spot was secured.
How is Hernandez utilised by Herrera?
United typically tend to use him solely as a goal-poacher from the bench.
Herrera plays in a 5 3 2 system that allows for less possession and more counter, fast paced style football. Hernandez has suffered with this system because he simply does not see the ball as much as supposed to the 4 4 2. Only when he flirts with the back-line during a counter will we see his brilliance and his impeccable speed. He is still a big threat to defenders inside box, Herrera will for sure use him, specially when we face any Chelsea players.
There’s been enough to suggest that Hernandez wanted out of Old Trafford last season and clearly wasn’t happy under David Moyes. Do you see him staying on with Louis van Gaal in charge, or is it time for him to leave having failed to nail down a place in the starting XI?
As much as we would love for one of our own to be in the BEST english team, It’s just not the right fit. Hernandez wants to play and is hungry to make a difference on a team. The talent is definitely there. There is a reason why Sir Alex started Javier in the biggest stage against the greatest team in history. That Champions final was a dream come true for him, but he would much rather be playing consistently.
His record for the national team is incredible; 35 goals in 58 matches. Is it fair to say that success in Brazil depends on him?
I would say that at this very moment that El tri would love to depend on a player like him. But because of his lack of minutes in his club, he has lost a few steps and it’s very evident on the pitch. The good new for us fans is that the kid has heart and fight. He will bleed for the team, and that is something we definitely depend from anyone.
How realistic would it be to expect a second consecutive appearance in the last sixteen to replicate 2010 in South Africa? Have many or any of the Olympic Gold medal winning squad made the cut?
I think Mexico has a good chance of making out of the group. Aside from Brazil, the other teams are not as strong as many have projected. Cameroon also had problems qualifying and have internal problems with it’s federation. The off-the field problems will affect the team for sure. I also believe that Croatia will suffer due to the weather conditions. We all remember the Euro teams in 94′, it definitely makes a difference.
As for the “Oro” team; the key players from that wembley win are definitely part of this squad. That win gave the players the taste of Victory. The team doesn’t have to be afraid of Brazil anymore.
We also got some further insight into how Mexico may get on with Jonny.
What’s the level of expectation surrounding Mexico ahead of the tournament? How far are they expected to progress, if at all?
Due to the very bad year Mexico had in 2013 and the qualification process, as well as the short amount of time the manager has had with the team; the expectations vary. There are a good number of people who don’t see Mexico advancing from the group stage, others believe Mexico will fill their usual World Cup role and make to round of 16 where they’ll have to face either Spain or Netherlands. And there are the small group of people who more out of hope say Mexico can make history and play a 5th match for the first time in their World Cup history.
Let’s talk Javier Hernandez. He hasn’t had a stellar year at United but presumably that hasn’t affected his standing in the national team or his popularity?
His popularity will never be affected with the Mexican fans, or even the media. No matter what his form is on the pitch he is still the same charismatic and approachable guy. As far as his standing within the team, his lack in form has cost him his starting XI place. He will now have to play his way back to the starting lineup from the bench. His inability to play along side another true natural striker has also contributed to this decision as Oribe Peralta is the on form striker at the moment for Mexico. Hernandez and Peralta have been paired together on several occasions and every time Hernandez seems lost, since his strengths are finding open space.
Just how important is Hernandez to Mexico?
Hernandez, just like at United, is fully committed to the well-being of the team. He is a great team player, and a great teammate. He will always have the same bright attitude whether he is in the starting XI, on the bench, or up in the stands outside of the 18-man roster. That type of player is invaluable to any team. He attracts a lot of media attention and knows how to handle it, taking pressure off of some of the less-experienced guys. His role coming off the bench throughout the World Cup is going to be vital to Mexico’s success. as the weather is going to be hot and humid. Chicharito and his speed off the bench against tired defenders could cause problems to Mexico’s opponents.
How do you expect Herrera to line his side up in Brazil?
The expected starting XI for Mexico in Brazil is: (5-3-2)- Guillermo Ochoa (GK), Paul Aguilar, Francisco Rodriguez, Rafael Marquez (C), Hector Moreno, Miguel Layun, Jose Juan Vazquez, Hector Herrera, Marco Fabian, Giovani Dos Santos, Oribe Peralta.