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How will Mexico line up against Canada?

4:26 AM MYT 20/06/2019
Andres Guardado Mexico
With a number of players carrying knocks, Tata Martino's starting XI for the Gold Cup match may be influenced more by fitness than form

Update: Alvarez returns, Antuna repeats in Martino's starting XI v. Canada

Mexico fans know what to expect from Tata Martino's teams at this point.

The manager has utilized a 4-3-3 in every match, using the same playing style he became known for at previous stops in an illustrious career. That isn't going to change any time soon. The manager wants his team to perfect its Plan A before moving on to other tactical ideas - a process that may take longer than a year in his eyes.

The question heading into what should be an actually challenging game against Canada is not the way Martino's team will play but who is fit enough to fill the roles.

As we do before each Mexico match, Goal has drawn up three potential lineups Martino could utilize. Check back right here an hour before kickoff for the lineup the manager actually chooses.

If everyone is fit...

This may not even be Martino's lineup if everyone is fit, but risking center back Hector Moreno seems like something the manager wouldn't do until the knockout stage with a top-quality pairing of Carlos Salcedo and Nestor Araujo more than serviceable. 

We know Guillermo Ochoa will start in goal. He's Mexico's No. 1 and Martino said Tuesday he won't make a modification for Tuesday's contest. 

Outside backs Jesus Gallardo and Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez perform well in his system (and also have few players in the lineup who can give them a breather when needed).  

We're yet to see Edson Alvarez since a knee injury suffered in the first half of El Tri's first friendly of the summer, a win over Venezuela. He's been making solid progress, though, and is training with the rest of the team. Martino would love to be able to slot him into the middle of the field between Andres Guardado and Jonathan dos Santos, who also was carrying a knock and missed the opener against Cuba. 

Rodolfo Pizarro has an ankle injury but would be the first choice alongside forward Raul Jimenez - a player Martino took time to praise in Tuesday's pre-match news conference. Roberto Alvarado also has been solid and has the other winger spot locked down - though if Pizarro actually is healthy, Martino may be tempted to stick with a hot hand and insert Uriel Antuna as the other winger after the LA Galaxy attacker's hat trick. 

If the absences persist...

This lineup would be unchanged except for Cesar Montes coming in for Salcedo. The Tigres center back was carrying a knock coming into camp and has played several matches since. He might be due a rest, and his crosstown rival Montes could slot in next to Araujo if needed. That spot would go to Diego Reyes, but he could be needed in midfield if Edson Alvarez isn't ready for 90 minutes of action. 

Carlos Rodriguez and Jonathan dos Santos are fighting for the same spot in the midfield, with Martino saying each player has been either the best or one of the best players on the field in the matches when he's given them an opportunity. Clearly, the manager would be comfortable with the Rayados youngster in the XI if Dos Santos isn't fully fit. 

Perhaps the most significant thing here is Uriel Antuna keeping his place. There are not many situations in international football where a player would score a hat trick and still lose his place. But if Pizarro is fit, Martino may want the superior player (at least in the current moment) to get on the field and get in rhythm. That said, Pizarro might not make an appearance until later in the tournament. 

A mix...

The most probable lineup seems to be a bit of a mix of players who missed the Cuba game with knocks and the manager's second-choice options who still are needed because injuries are persisting for others.

In this projection, we have Alvarez being passed fit for the start but Salcedo getting a rest. That puts Reyes into the back four next to Araujo.

It also seems like it could be too soon for Pizarro, so Antuna repeats in the lineup, but Jonathan dos Santos gets minutes after an impressive showing against Ecuador in the friendly match at AT&T Stadium.