As Goal predicts El Tri's starting lineup for the World Cup with less than three months before kick off, the Manchester United striker is on the outside looking in.
In Mexico, arguments have already begun to take hold, with fierce opinions in media outlets and among friends being spouted on what Miguel Herrera should do when El Tri kicks off its World Cup campaign against Cameroon on June 13 in Natal.
What follows is my Mexico starting XI, 80 days out from the big event. Please note that I’ve tried to derive a balance between what is possible within Miguel Herrera’s 5-3-2 system and where the players are at with their clubs.
Guillermo Ochoa gets the nod in goal, although it is incredibly tight between him, Jesus Corona and Alfredo Talavera – who may not be the popular choice but has been in top form of late for Toluca. I’ve previously tended to lean towards Corona, but Ochoa’s form in France is good and his performance for El Tri against Nigeria in early March has edged him ahead.
In terms of the center backs, the fact Diego Reyes has started twice for Porto this week – including his first-division debut – means he is above the more experienced and physical Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez in the pecking order for that slightly problematic right-hand position.
In the middle, veteran Rafa Marquez has been in the right place at the right time after Jose Manuel de la Torre exited the scene. He remains a risk due to his lack of pace, but does seem to be well respected by the rest of the players and knows exactly what is required at World Cups.
Over on the left, Hector Moreno is a no-brainer and one of the first names Herrera will have down on the team-sheet.
In the wing back positions, Paul Aguilar doesn’t convince at international level and will have to settle for a place on the bench, with two-footed Miguel Layun shifting over to the right and the more experienced Andres Guardado on the left.
The defensive midfield position – so key as the glue in Herrera’s fluid system – goes to Juan Carlos Medina, despite him not having the requisite experience of having pitted his wits against the likes of Brazil’s attacking jewels and Croatia’s Luka Modric previously in his career.
Jose Juan Vasquez is the other option, but Medina is slightly ahead and although it is tempting to put Hector Herrera or even Reyes in the holding role to fill in, they are required elsewhere.
Porto’s Herrera and Leon’s Carlos Pena take up the more attacking, creative central midfield roles and represent a genuinely exciting partnership. Both can create and score goals, can tackle, have good engines and will cause headaches for the opposition if they get it right.
Luis Montes, Isaac Brizuela and Javier Aquino will feel unlucky to miss out and “Piojo” Herrera will have plenty of firepower on the bench should the Pena and Herrera partnership not spark.
Up front, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez isn’t in at the moment.
No one should doubt Hernandez’s ability or negate his significant achievements in England and for El Tri. It is just Oribe Peralta has been consistently good for a long time and Giovani Dos Santos is finally showing the type of promise week-in, week-out in Spain that was expected (perhaps unfairly) some time ago.