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How will Mexico line up against Ecuador?

22:54 EAT 09/06/2019
Andres Guardado Mexico
Tata Martino will put some new faces in his starting lineup for the final friendly match ahead of the Gold Cup

UPDATE: Raul Jimenez repeats as starter for El Tri

The last match is here. After Sunday's friendly match against Ecuador, the next game Tata Martino coaches with El Tri will be in a competitive tournament.

The coach is dealing with a number of injuries, though, and after naming a 29-man provisional roster rather than the 40 names allowed, he can ill afford another injury. Martino also said he wants to keep getting to know players on the team who are yet to see a heavy dose of minutes in the first three matches he coached.

As Goal does before every match, we've put together three projections of what the starting lineup could look like. Check back an hour before kickoff for the XI that Martino decides to go with.


Nine changes


This seems like the right amount of changes for Martino, as he looks to see new faces and keep the group healthy. There's a veteran presence, with Guillermo Ochoa in goal and captain Andres Guardado getting the start as the left interior midfielder. On the other side of him, Jonathan dos Santos gets a look, while Hector Moreno could step back into the lineup as he did Wednesday for an injured Edson Alvarez. That pushed Diego Reyes into the midfield with World Cup veteran Moreno settling in at the left center back. If Alvarez isn't good to go, getting minutes for Reyes as the holding midfielder could be critical.

With Moreno in the back line are Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez, who likely will start at right back in the Gold Cup after his quality season with Tigres, Monterrey center back Cesar Montes and America left back Jorge Sanchez.

Despite the fact that Uriel Antuna isn't on the Gold Cup squad (at least, he won't be if Alvarez is healthy enough to make the list), he's still in the camp. Martino likely wants to give the LA Galaxy attacker some minutes in case he does need to call upon him. This game will be the game. The same goes for Alexis Vega. It's going to be a long summer for Raul Jimenez. Keeping him fresh should be the priority. Jesus Gallardo played at left back against Venezuela, but he also can play as a winger. He may get a chance to fill the hole left by Hirving Lozano on the left wing, giving club teammate Rodolfo Pizarro a rest after a strong showing against La Vinotinto.


Montes' revenge?


This is the field on which Luis Montes saw his hopes of going to the 2014 World Cup ended, suffering a crunching friendly that broke his leg. The Leon No. 10 has worked his way back and had an excellent season. Now, he's on the Gold Cup roster. But we've seen very little of him.

The 33-year-old seems like a bit of a square peg in a round hole in Martino's 4-3-3, but he could play as a winger - perhaps even seeing club teammate Angel Mena on the other side.

Carlos Salcedo is fit in this game, but it seems unlikely he'll start. That said, Martino could plan to start him and play him a half before swapping him out for Cesar Montes or another center back option. Maybe we'd see a two-Montes lineup.

Elsewhere, Gallardo would drop back into the back line with Antuna on the other side of the attack. The midfield would remain the same.


Taking a risk


It's possible Martino decides to throw caution to the wind and play his attacking trio again in an effort to build chemistry.  The thing is, if Raul Jimenez goes down with a knock or Rodolfo Pizarro is injured, there are few quality replacements he could bring in.

Expect to see Antuna get a run-out and at least one of the top attackers getting a rest, but it's not beyond the realm of possibility that Martino looks to build continuity for his front line.