Tom Marshall: Giovani Dos Santos’ World Cup audition against Ecuador

The former Barcelona youngster is battling for a starting role in the center of the El Tri attack.
There has always been something slightly awry when it comes to the relationship between Giovani Dos Santos and Miguel Herrera.
It’s not been openly hostile and there is no reason to think the two don’t necessarily get on, but Dos Santos has been one of the players that didn’t seem to fit into Herrera’s system and whom the coach had criticized publically.

However, the one thing that has impressed above any other in Miguel Herrera’s reign as Mexico coach so far has to be his rational decision making when it came to picking his 23-player squad.

There had been doubts about Dos Santos’ name not being on the list, but it would’ve been incomprehensible to leave out a player that scored 11 goals in La Liga for Villarreal and is coming off his best-ever season. It was a relief to see Dos Santos’ name on the list.

On Saturday against Ecuador, Dos Santos will make his debut under Herrera for Mexico and it is basically a World Cup audition for the 25-year-old. With just three friendly games left before Brazil 2014 gets underway and Alan Pulido, Raul Jimenez, Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta all vying for spots in a fiercely competitive area of the field for Mexico, Dos Santos has to perform.
“The duo has already played an important tournament (the Olympics) and won the gold medal,” said Herrera in Friday’s press conference in Arlington, Texas. “They know each other and so we will try to see if that connection is still there.”
The Dos Santo-Peralta partnership is a mouthwatering prospect, with the former dropping in behind to find space for himself or create some for Peralta.
The Monterrey-born forward has played a similar role all season to great effect alongside Ikechukwu Uche at Villarreal and Dos Santos has stated that a central role is his favorite position, after former coach Jose Manuel “Chepo” de la Torre switched him around and on more than one occasion had words with the player about his lack of defensive nous.
Dos Santos’ career had been wriggled with inconsistency before this season, with Tottenham not working out and failed loan spells at Galatasaray and Ipswich slightly damaging his reputation. But all that is now water under the bridge.
Dos Santos retains the ability to be a critical player for Mexico in Brazil. But first he’ll have to prove it against Ecuador.