Mexico can continue its perfect run in the inaugural Concacaf Nations League on Friday with a victory against Panama. But with many regulars still with their clubs, what will Tata Martino's squad look like against the Central Americans?
Several regulars, like forward Raul Jimenez, midfielders Edson Alvarez and Erick Gutierrez, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa are part of the squad. Martino also will need good showings, however, from young players - many of whom have shown promise but are yet to be tested like they'll be at the difficult atmosphere of the Estadio Rommel Fernandez.
As we do before each Mexico match, Goal has three potential lineups that Martino could deploy:
This team bears a strong resemblance to the one Martino used to win the Gold Cup, which is a bit of a surprise since he said his Nations League squads largely would be comprised of players who didn't take part in the Concacaf championship.
Nevertheless, it's an XI that Martino knows can work well together and get the victory that would book El Tri's ticket in the CNL semifinals.
Guillermo Ochoa is Martino's top goalkeeper, and ahead of him the only wrinkle would be center back Cesar Montes slotting in next to Hector Moreno. Luis "Chaka" Rodrigez and Jesus Gallardo are well-known by Mexico fans at this point, with Gallardo the top minutes-earner in the Martino era.
In the midfield, the injury to Jonathan dos Santos means Carlos Rodriguez not only is in this squad but that he's likely to get a start. Edson Alvarez needs all the experience he can get as the lone midfielder in the middle of the 4-3-3, and Erick Gutierrez is in his most comfortable position on the left.
Up top, it's Raul Jimenez, who is in excellent form, with Monterrey attacker Rodolfo Pizarro on one side and Cruz Azul's Roberto Alvarado on the other - though as we'll see in the other options there are choices for Martino on the wing.
Putting in more fresh faces
This lineup gives Jimenez a rest after he took a knock with Wolves toward the end of their match last weekend against Aston Villa, with Jose Juan Macias the beneficiary. With "Charly" Rodriguez also recently joining the squad, Erick Aguirre may be able to nudge his way into the starting XI in the midfield.
Pizarro once again gets the start in this lineup, but Uriel Antuna, currently with the LA Galaxy but the subject of much transfer speculation, would start on the right as he did during much of the Gold Cup.
A total youth movement
What if Martino decided to send out a team eligible for the Olympics? He won't, but it would look exactly like this. Everyone in this starting XI currently is 23 or younger. While U-23 coach Jaime Lozano has a camp together at the moment, the fact you even can make an XI like this shows how much Martino wants to work with these talented players before they begin their campaign toward a gold medal in Japan.
Veracruz goalkeeper Sebastian Jurado would start over Ochoa with Necaxa left back Cristian Calderon and America fullback Jorge Sanchez on the outsides. Johan Vasquez, Montes' Monterrey teammate, could complete the back four. In the middle, Aguirre and Alvarez stay with America's Sebastian Cordova slotting in and the attacking trident of Macias, Antuna and Alvarado still would cause teams plenty of trouble.
This roster is a fun exercise, and we might see something not too terribly far off from this in the game against Bermuda - especially if Mexico gets all three points in Panama and has the top spot in the group locked up.