After a slump that saw Mexico interim manager Ricardo "Tuca" Ferretti drop his first two matches in his second term as temporary El Tri boss, Ferretti's side earned a 3-2 victory against Costa Rica last week. Now the team moves to Queretaro where it will host a Chile side looking to get its bearings after missing out on the 2018 World Cup and struggling in recent friendly matches, including a 3-0 loss to Peru last week.
Despite those struggles, Ferretti clearly has plenty of respect for La Roja and is set to put a strong side on the field at the Estadio Corregidora.
As we do before each Mexico match, Goal has projected three lineups Ferretti may use. In this match more than most, though, there's a strong feeling he'll lean toward the first listed below:
Europe-based players enter
Of the seven Europe-based players on Mexico's roster, only two saw time in the 3-2 victory over Costa Rica. Forward Raul Jimenez and winger Jesus "Tecatito" Corona came into the match as substitutes.
That pair and the five players who didn't come in will get more time against Chile, likely from the opening whistle. That means a fearsome attacking trident up front with Jimenez as the No. 9 with Corona and PSV star Hirving Lozano on either side of them.
Marco Fabian isn't known as a playmaker necessarily (and may play in a more withdrawn role than shown on the image above, which we'll get to in the third projection), but he has good attacking instincts and in addition to scoring stunning goals of his own should be able to facilitate that talented attacking group.
Behind them we see Lozano's PSV teammate Erick Gutierrez and Queretaro midfielder Javier Guemez, a surprise inclusion but a player who was a top central midfield prospect for Mexico for some time and is seeing a bit of a re-emergence with Rafael Puente's Gallos Blancos.
The back line has Monterrey's Jesus Gallardo in the left-back spot after playing there throughout the 2018 World Cup. Tigres right back Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez is on the other side with a center-back pairing of Nestor Araujo and Diego Reyes working together. The Europe-based pair could swap sides with Araujo familiar with the left center-back role after playing there with Santos Laguna for several seasons.
Hugo Gonzalez, the most experienced of the three goalkeepers in the squad and the only one who didn't play in the last match, is set to go the full 90 minutes defending the net.
A tweak in the midfield
This is the same lineup as the one above with a subtle tweak in central midfield. Rather than Gutierrez working with Guemez, he would play more of a two-way role with Monterrey teenager Jonathan Gonzalez behind him.
Ferretti has been slow to use Gonzalez during this interim stint. That's understandable to an extent. In September, the Tigres manager said the midfielder was carrying a knock and fans of rivals Rayados would've had his head had he played Gonzalez and made the injury worse. This month, Gonzalez arrived late to camp after taking part in Rayados' cup victory over Guemez's Queretaro team. At 19, Gonzalez has a higher ceiling than Guemez, and this would be the perfect chance to give him a test on the international level.
Thinking about a 4-3-3
This isn't another lineup as much as it is another way to think about how Ferretti could ask his team to play against Chile.
We tossed in Victor Guzman for fun after the Pachuca midfielder's excellent day against Costa Rica, but it could well be Fabian in the spot. In fact, don't be surprised if this is how the lineup functions rather than the 4-2-3-1 including Fabian in the attack. The Frankfurt player could slide back and play a more conservative role. With that front three, his attacking contributions might not need to be all that frequent.
Again, Guemez and Gonzalez are fighting for the same place, but Gonzalez would get the edge here as a player who is much more aggressive winning the ball back and protecting his center backs.
Ferretti could surprise and use a totally different personnel group than the one we've largely stuck with in our projections, but it's clear that the Chile game is the one he's been focusing on this window. His most talented players, mostly the ones based in Europe and those with World Cup experience, are going to get their chance Tuesday.