Mexico is qualified for the World Cup but still has plenty to play for.
El Tri are still pushing to top the Hexagonal. They also have a chance to go undefeated in this round and set a team record for points earned in the final round of World Cup qualification.
As Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio returns to the touch line after serving a six-match suspension, how will he align his team to face Costa Rica?
We're assuming Osorio will give Jesus Corona a chance to start and that he'll stick with a four-man back line against Costa Rica's five-man back with quick wingbacks. Those assumptions could be wrong, with Guillermo Ochoa continuing to distinguish himself as Mexico's No. 1, but seem safe assumptions to make. Hector Herrera is out with an injury, Nestor Araujo is suspended and Jesus Duenas is dealing with a personal issue. Update: Jurgen Damm also has been ruled out of tonight's game after taking a knock in training.
Here are three possible starting XIs for El Tri tonight:
An experienced look
This would see Mexico start in a 4-2-1-3 similar to what Osorio tried out in the Confederations Cup. It also would have plenty of experience in the team, with veterans like Hector Moreno, Andres Guardado, Chicharito and the Dos Santos brothers included.
Osorio has handed Gio the keys to the attack before, looking for him to turn into something of a playmaker. It hasn't always happened that way, but that doesn't mean the LA Galaxy midfielder won't get another opportunity. After Jona's sensational Confederations Cup, it's safe to expect he'll play a big role with Hector Herrera not traveling because of an injury.
Look at the fullbacks, where typical center back Moreno and multifunctional Club America teenager Edson Alvarez are out wide. Both have played those positions in their careers, Alvarez very recently for Mexico at the Gold Cup, but would be tested by Costa Rica if the Ticos fullbacks push forward. That's countered by Lozano and Raul Jimenez (who could win Jesus Corona's starting spot, though Tecatito could retain it) out wide and Chicharito in his normal position as the No. 9.
This has never been Osorio's MO, but if he decided to turn over a new leaf he could play a team not unlike the one that just beat Panama. He could actually make even fewer rotations than the suggested lineup above by leaving Jesus Gallardo at left back and Diego Reyes at right back, while putting in Moreno for the injured Araujo. That seems unlikely, though, after he gave such an impassioned defense of Moreno's ability to play left back and Alvarez's ability to play right back when he named the squad for this group of matches.
We've also taken out Carlos Vela and put in Hirving Lozano after the 22-year-old's star showing against the Caneleros, while Jonathan dos Santos replaces the injured Hector Herrera in the middle of the field.
This is very unlikely, but possible if Osorio decides that he's locked up the spot in Russia and now wants to see what his youngest players can do. Raul Lopez would take the right back spot with Jesus Gallardo getting more minutes on the left. 20-year-old center back Cesar Montes could earn his first start in World Cup qualification. And Edson Alvarez could sit back in the middle while Orbelin Pineda goes box-to-box.
Even in this unlikely scenario, the front three remains relatively similar. Raul Jimenez is technically younger than Chicharito, but it's hard to see him displacing the West Ham forward against Costa Rica's three tough center backs.