News Live Scores

How will Mexico line up against Martinique?

2:00 PM EDT 6/23/19
Andres Guardado Mexico Canada Gold Cup 2019
With his team all but into the Gold Cup quarterfinals, look for El Tri manager Tata Martino to make several changes to his lineup

UPDATE: Raul Jimenez, Andres Guarado and Edson Alvarez start as Mexico makes six changes

Mexico isn't technically into the Gold Cup knockout stages yet, but barring the most stunning upset in Gold Cup history it should be there soon.

Martinique doesn't present the same sort of challenge Canada did, and even that challenge was one Mexico overcame in a 3-1 victory during the week. Mexico manager Tata Martino likely is looking for his team to be fresh ahead of the knockout stages and should give rest to some key components of his squad.

He also has a team nearly at full fitness, with midfielder Erick Gutierrez the only player ruled out of Sunday's Group A finale. That could mean the first minutes of the Gold Cup for attacker Rodolfo Pizarro and center back Hector Moreno, each of whom were carrying knocks that kept them out of wins over Cuba and Canada.

As we do before each match, Goal has put together three projections for a possible starting XI. Check back an hour before the game to see what Martino decides!

A last-game refresh

This is the lineup Martino is most likely to utilize. It features seven changes from his team that beat Canada.

Essentially, this would give everyone a rest except for the players who really have no back-up. So, Jesus Gallardo gets the start at left back because there's really no other left back. Same with Andres Guardado at left interior midfielder after the injury to Erick Gutierrez, Raul Jimenez up top as the team's best No. 9 and Roberto Alvarado with him as one of the wingers.

Other than those 'irreplaceables', everyone is getting a refresh. That even extends to Guillermo Ochoa, the No.1 goalkeeper. He'll be in goal for the knockout rounds, but look for Santos Laguna goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco to get the nod Sunday.

At right back, Fernando Navarro could replace Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez and make his Mexico debut at a major tournament. In the middle, it would be Hector Moreno, getting minutes for the first time after his pre-tournament injury, and young Monterrey center back Cesar Montes. Nestor Araujo and Diego Reyes would get a breather, and Carlos Salcedo could have another game not to put stress on his knee, which has been bothering the Tigres center back.

Edson Alvarez is an interesting one, since he only returned to the starting XI last week. But the rest for Reyes may be more valuable, as would Alvarez seeing more time in a central midfield role where he has excelled but has not played as often as other positions during his career. Guardado is to his left with Carlos Rodriguez on the right, with he and Jonathan dos Santos continuing to alternate starts at that spot.

Up top, a fit Rodolfo Pizarro gets his first minutes of the tournament, putting El Tri's top attacking trio together for the first time in the Gold Cup.

Playing it safer

This is the same lineup as above, but rather than risking players who came in with a knock, they are given more time to recover. Of course, Martino may want to give those players minutes so they can get into a good rhythm ahead of the most important matches in the tournament. If it's too soon for them to come in, though, Mexico could utilize a look like this.

Uriel Antuna has made the most of his opportunity replacing Pizarro, with a hat trick against Cuba in the first game and an assist against Canada in the second. Even if he does not start in the business end of the tournament, he would give Martino an option against Martinique.

This also would see Hector Moreno given a break as well. It is probably up to him and what the medical staff has told Martino about his knock. Moreno has played in Europe for more than a decade. He does not necessarily need the burn against Martinique, but if he wants to play to get ready, Martino will be happy for the left-footer to come in. If not, Nestor Araujo gets the nod once again.

Stick with what you know

I have a hunch this is not the XI Martino will go with. He has shown a willingness to give chances to players like Navarro, who perhaps are a bit behind others on the roster but are still looking to compete for a spot. The reward is minutes in matches that still matter but may not stretch Mexico as much as a game like Canada. Martinique fits the bill.

That said, this would be the same lineup Martino used against Canada, with Guardado in for Guti. If Martino believes the best way to get through the tournament is by not making any modifications, this would be his XI.