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Argentina vs Mexico

How should Mexico line up against Argentina? El Tri desperate for striker production at World Cup

3:00 PM GMT 25/11/2022
Martin Jimenez Funes Mori Mexico GFX
GOAL breaks down the line-up Mexico's Gerardo "Tata" Martino should pick against Argentina in a key World Cup bout on Saturday.

Mexico have reached the knockout stage in seven consecutive World Cup tournaments, and with a fan base that always travels well, El Tri traditionally know how to make their mark.

But on current form, they are at risk of being dumped from the competition earlier than they have in more than 30 years.

Two finals defeats to the United States last summer and friendly losses to Paraguay and Sweden in the run-up to the World Cup were a bad omen. A 0-0 draw with Poland to begin their Qatar campaign didn't inspire much hope.

Martino, a manager under immense pressure, must now make quick adjustments to wake up an attack that didn't create enough against Poland, while ensuring a defence bailed out by Guillermo Ochoa's penalty heroics doesn't get ripped apart by an angry Argentina team looking to bounce back from a loss to Saudi Arabia.

Here's how Mexico should approach the Albiceleste - including Martino's decision at striker with Raul Jimenez in an injury-related rut and Henry Martin also struggling:

  • Ochoa react penalty save Mexico Poland World Cup 2022

    GK: Guillermo Ochoa

    No doubts here. Ochoa is the man - and a leading face of the national team from a global perspective, having shined so bright at the World Cup before and then again this week against Poland.

    This is likely the final World Cup appearance for the 37-year-old, who now plays in Liga MX for America. No matter. When/if Mexico are knocked out, he'll still go down as a king.

  • Jesus Gallardo Mexico friendly 2022

    LB: Jesus Gallardo

    Gallardo started every match at the 2018 World Cup, but he'll be most remembered as the unwanted answer to a trivia question: Who received the fastest yellow card in World Cup history? The full-back was booked in 13 seconds in El Tri's loss to Sweden.

    Against Poland, the 28-year-old, who plays club football at Monterrey, made a good start in changing the narrative; he might have been the best field player for his team in the 2022 tournament opener and is locked into his starting spot.

    A clash with Lionel Messi and Angel Di Maria awaits.

  • Hector Moreno Robert Lewandowski World Cup

    CB: Hector Moreno

    In his fourth World Cup, Moreno remains a sure-fire member of Mexico's back-four, even though he may now be the weakest link.

    Moreno struggled in El Tri's final tune-up match against Sweden and then conceded the penalty against Robert Lewandowski against Poland.

    Still, it's too late to consider yanking such an experienced defensive anchor from the line-up. He's in the team vs Argentina.

  • Cesar Montes Mexico friendly 2022.

    CB: Cesar Montes

    International chemistry can be difficult to build on the fly, so it helps when players are also familiar with one another at club level.

    Montes, 25, is Monterrey team-mates with Moreno and Gallardo, giving Mexico a rare World Cup back-line with three defenders of the same club.

    He started the friendly defeat to Sweden in central defence alongside Moreno and like Moreno could have done better in that outing. Unlike his partner, though, he appeared more assured against Poland.

    Montes is ready to go against Argentina.

  • Jorge Sanchez Mexico friendly 2022

    RB: Jorge Sanchez

    One of two possible Mexico starters from Ajax, Sanchez has been in Martino's line-up on eight occasions in 2022.

    He's enjoying the best attacking season of his career from the full-back position in terms of expected goals and assists per 90 minutes - a feat made more impressive by the fact he's only just moved to Europe this term.

    Sanchez was a bit sloppy against Poland, but at 24 years old, his future is bright and it should get better from here.

  • Edson Alvarez Mexico Poland World Cup

    CM: Edson Alvarez

    A hot summer transfer target of Premier League teams, Alvarez was actually not guaranteed to start in Qatar, having been left out of the line-up in both of Mexico's November friendlies.

    But his all-round play from the defensive midfield position (really, he does so little wrong) was impossible for Martino to ignore, and he earned the nod against Poland.

    His solidity in that match should get him another start against Argentina.

  • Andres Guardado Mexico Poland

    CM: Andres Guardado

    Hector Herrera is no longer at his peak, and it showed against Poland. Perhaps the worst of Mexico's starters in that draw, serious questions must be asked about his place - even though not long ago it would be sacrilege to suggest he should come off the bench.

    Andres Guardado, El Tri's all-time leader in caps, was an unused substitute in the opener. Yes, he's not at his peak either, but maybe Martino should let him make his fifth World Cup appearance in Herrera's stead.

    After all, something needs to change.

  • Luis Chavez Mexico Poland

    CM: Luis Chavez

    Martino dared to sit Guardado in the opener, and it paid off as Chavez put in a high-quality performance.

    The Liga MX star of Pachuca is a source of much-needed energy for Mexico and is in good shape to be selected again against Argentina.

  • Alexis Vega Mexico Sweden 2022

    LW: Alexis Vega

    Nobody raised their stock more in the build-up to the World Cup than Vega.

    He scored in each of the friendlies against Iraq and Sweden, extending his run to three El Tri games in a row with a goal. He'd notched just three goals total in his entire senior international career before the mini-burst.

    That led Vega to be picked ahead of Uriel Antuna, who is also fighting for a starting left-wing role following Jesus Corona's leg break.

    Vega did enough against Poland to keep his place.

  • Rogelio Funes Mori Mexico Poland

    ST: Rogelio Funes Mori

    Oh boy. Three options, none of them enticing.

    Roll with Raul Jimenez despite the clear injury risk and terrible form? Choose Henry Martin again after an empty performance against Poland? Pick Rogelio Funes Mori because nothing else has worked?

    Martino can't really win here, but Funes Mori probably deserves a shot to prove himself in Qatar.

  • Hirving Lozano Mexico 2022

    RW: Hirving Lozano

    Lozano is fit for the World Cup after injuries to his head and shoulder over the past two years, but El Tri are still waiting for him to step up with Corona sidelined and Jimenez working his way back from his own fitness nightmare.

    Lozano will start against Argentina, but with the striker position a black hole, can he carry his nation on his back from the wing?

  • Mexico Projected XI Argentina

    How Mexico should line up

    Not too many changes in El Tri's lineup from Poland with just Guardado and Funes Mori the only two changes among the projected starters.

    Both, though, come with major question marks as Martino will need to find the best solution for some difficult situations in the midfield and up top.