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How will Mexico line up against Panama?

4:11 PM EDT 10/15/19
Hector Herrera Mexico
Hirving Lozano may play something akin to the position he plays at Napoli when El Tri take on the Central Americans in Nations League action

Update: Martino is going with Gudino; Mozo, Salcedo, Araujo, Calderon; Rodriguez, Herrera, Aguirre; Pizarro, Lozano, Alvarado

One down, three to go.

Mexico started its Concacaf Nations League campaign by throttling Bermuda 5-1. Now, Mexico manager Tata Martino makes his debut at the Estadio Azteca with a CNL match against Panama, a game that likely will provide El Tri with a stiffer test if past meetings are anything to go on.

So will Martino look to use as much experience as possible or will he challenge his young players to step up and make a difference?

As we do before each Mexico match, Goal has taken a look at three possible lineups Martino could deploy against Panama. Check back an hour before kickoff to see what the manager has opted to go with.

Lozano up top?

One of the interesting potential wrinkles, first reported by TUDN, is the possability of Hiving Lozano moving from the wing to the No. 9 position. Martino wants an active 9 who comes deep to get involved in the play and also press. Jose Juan Macias does that, but you wonder if after seeing how Lozano is being deployed with Napoli, Martino wants to see what it could look like with the national team as well.

If so, look for Lozano and Rodolfo Pizarro to either interchange fluidly or be totally out of sync. Pizarro was an attacking fire-starter in the Gold Cup, but wing isn't his true position. You could see the two working well together, but you could also see the experiment failing. Roberto Alvarado, another Gold Cup champion, gives you a bit more defensive heft on the other side.

In the midfield, Erick Aguirre and Carlos Rodriguez both have senior national team experience and did well with their time against Bermuda, while Hector Herrera could once again fill in as the 6. We didn't see much of how the Atletico Madrid midfielder could do as the lone defensive midfield player, and that's a weakness of El Tri's that HH perhaps could fill with so many other good two-way midfielders in the squad.

At the back, Raul Gudino wins a pick-em over Rodolfo Cota. The back four would repeat from last game, with the center backs again in focus.

Giving the Europeans a rest

Lozano and Herrera are here - along with a few other players based abroad - but Martino almost seems to lament their presence. On multiple occasions, he's pointed out that Lozano was playing the likes of Juventus and Liverpool not long ago and now is playing the likes of Bermuda and Panama.

They're still here, so you figure Martino will put them to use, but if he wanted to give them a rest he could simply put Macias back up top in a start that surely would be meaningful for the 20-year-old. In the middle, things are a bit more complicated. Martino is yet to rely on Jonathan Gonzalez much, and tossing him in against Panama would be a surprise. Not to look too deeply into it, but he is wearing No. 6 in this camp. Martino also could put Rodriguez or Aguirre in the hole and move Gonzalez up. 

Seeing more new faces

Martino wants to use these camps and the matches that go with them to see players he hasn't worked with previously. It stands to reason that he may want to see some of those players in live action from the opening whistle.

That could mean fullback prospects like Pumas' Alan Mozo and Santos Laguna's Gerardo Arteaga getting their debut in official matches. Ivan Rodriguez, who was on the initial Gold Cup call-up and also came into the Bermuda match as a reserve, is another alternative.

So too is Diego Lainez, who isn't getting the minutes he wants in Spain and has to be pleased to be in the national team picture once again. A start could boost the teenager's confidence, and he may reward that faith with the kind of performances he used to put in at the Azteca with America.