How will Mexico line up against Cuba?

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Ronald Martinez
Tata Martino has to deal with a number of injuries and absences, but the El Tri boss is set to field a strong XI as the Gold Cup kicks off Saturday

UPDATE: Antuna starts with Pizarro not fit to make XI

Tata Martino's first official game as Mexico manager is finally here. The Argentine, who took over El Tri in January, has overseen four friendly matches. All of them have been victories.

Now, he turns his attention to a Cuba team Mexico has beaten in every meeting since a Pan American Games in the 1970s. Every official match has been won by El Tri.

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That said, it's a chance for Martino to get his best XI playing well together and building chemistry. Unfortunately for him, he has to cope with a number of injuries suffered in the last week, adding to an already depleted roster.

As we do before each Mexico match, Goal has put together three potential starting line-ups for Mexico. Check back an hour before kick-off to see which one Martino has elected to deploy.


Probable Mexico XI


GFX MX v Cuba actual

This is by far the most likely line-up for Martino to use both against Cuba and during the Gold Cup as a whole. There will be changes - notably if Hector Moreno and Edson Alvarez return to full fitness by the knockout stages as they'll likely slot in at left center-back and central midfield. Jonathan dos Santos, who picked up an ankle knock, won't start. That means Monterrey midfielder Carlos Rodriguez should come in. 

Jesus Gallardo and Luis 'Chaka' Rodriguez are attacking full-backs who get forward well. That's something Martino's system demands. Gallardo in particular causes a lot of problems on the left combining with Monterrey team-mate Rodolfo PIzarro.

On the left side of central midfield, Andres Guardado should get a go in his most comfortable position. The captain is the leader of the team on and off the field and helps both the left-sided attack and the central midfield area. That's good news because converted center-back Diego Reyes hasn't always looked his best in that position. With injuries, however, it's where he'll need to be.

Raul Jimenez is locked in as the No.9 after the Wolves forward was the only player to start both warm-up friendly matches. Roberto Alvarado will line up next to him.

Guillermo Ochoa is the No.1 for the tournament, though he may get a rest during the group stage.


Pizarro out?


GFX MX v Cuba pizarro hurt pineda in

In addition to Alvarez, Dos Santos and Moreno, there could be another injury absence Saturday night. Monterrey attacker Rodolfo Pizarro isn't at 100 percent because of an ankle knock.

If that happens, Martino's options for wingers are limited. He has Uriel Antuna, the LA Galaxy player he attempted to cut from the original roster before including once again because of injury. He also has Orbelin Pineda. El Tri fans will be hoping the dynamic Pizarro is good to go at least for the first hour or so before exiting with a big lead.


Taking it easy


GFX MX v Cuba easy

If, for some reason, Martino feels he can't risk his best line-up against Cuba, he may roll out something like this. Carlos Salcedo came into the summer carrying a knee injury and could be replaced by Cesar Montes. Andres Guardado, who didn't start the friendly against Venezuela but did come in and score, is another candidate for extra rest with Erick Gutierrez able to fill the same role.

Martino doesn't seem to be too concerned about his top players taking knocks, even as more and more keep being added to the injury list. The field at the Rose Bowl is generally excellent, and Martino will want to get the Gold Cup rolling on the right foot.

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