How will Mexico line up against Costa Rica?

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Jim WATSON
Facing a must-win match against Costa Rica, Tata Martino will put out what he feels is his strongest squad in the quarterfinal

It's the business end of the Gold Cup, and Mexico manager Tata Martino has had several days since the end of group play to think about the lineup he wants to deploy against Costa Rica.

With a mostly fit squad, no suspensions and a game in which a stumble means the end of the tournament, Martino will put out the squad he feels is his stongest possible.

As Goal does before each Mexico match, we've projected three potential XIs. Click back an hour before kickoff to see what Martino has actually elected to put on the field.

Confirmed Mexico XI


Strongest XI


GFX MX xi v crc

With Rodolfo Pizarro fit once again, this could be Martino's best XI.

No. 1 goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is the base of the team. In defense, there's the fullbacks Martino has come to rely on in Jesus Gallardo and Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez.

The one player perhaps not in this group even if Martino would like him there is Hector Moreno. The left center back is still recovering from an injury, and while the manager says he's in condition to play today it also could be an unneeded risk. The drop-off from Moreno to Araujo is minimal, and if Moreno reaggravates the injury, that's one substitution you're not getting back. Nestor Araujo and Carlos Salcedo could once again pair together in the center of defense.

Andres Guardado and Edson Alvarez are fixtures in the midfield, with Carlos Rodriguez and Jonathan dos Santos trading off in the right interior midfield spot. Dos Santos gets the nod here because of his experience in knockout matches, but it could go either way.

Up top, a healthy PIzarro and Raul Jimenez should cause Costa Rica plenty of headaches. Roberto Alvarado could again get the nod on the other wing as he did before the tournament, but Martino also may want to work Uriel Antuna into the XI (see option No. 3).


Add in Moreno


GFX MX moreno

As mentioned above, Martino may want to put Moreno into the starting XI if he's over the muscle issue that has kept him from seeing time in the Gold Cup thus far.

After a few bobbles in this tournament, I wonder if Araujo might be the player who Martino sacrifices. Salcedo had a knee injury coming into the tournament but looks to have shaken it off. This could be the strongest back four for Martino, who mentioned at his Friday news conference the depth he has at center back with the aforementioned players plus Diego Reyes and Cesar Montes all available. 

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Antuna repeats


GFX MX antuna

After nearly being left off the squad, Uriel Antuna has been one of the revelations of the Gold Cup, with his four goals in the tournament currently putting him second on the top scorers chart. Pizarro and Alvarado are probably still more complete players, but would Martino stick with the hot hand?

If so, he could put Pizarro and Antuna both in the starting lineup, but this team - similar to one that had success together in the group stages, could make the most sense with the chemistry it has built in the last few weeks. 

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