The battle for North American primacy on the pitch has been heating up, but Mexico will put its rivalry with the U.S. on hold while they attempt to establish themselves as one of the best teams in the world.
Team: El Tri
Colors: Green, red and white
Formation: 4-4-2 or 4-3-3
All U.S. soccer fans are aware of the challenge from down south, but what about the rest of the world? Having recently been labeled as a team that can only win on its home soil, Mexico will try to turn some heads in their match against the host country on opening day of the tournament.
With a lot of young talent, Mexico’s squad has the speed and skills to compete, but they are relatively inexperienced. Although some of the players were on the under-17 team that won the U17 World Cup in ’05, the level of play is not comparable. We’ll soon find out just how competitive El Tri will be. If they win their opening game, beware.
Key Players: Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos
Mexico’s success will largely depend on their trio of playmakers. Vela and dos Santos were a deadly dynamic duo in the final-round qualifiers that boosted Mexico into the tournament.
The team’s young players can run with anyone, but Mexico’s driving force is their legendary midfielder, Cuauhtémoc Blanco. U.S. footballers know just how good Blanco can be. Over the past three years, he has dominated the MLS with the Chicago Fire. Although the National Team veteran may have lost a step (some experts thinks so), his skill with the ball is better than ever, and he was El Tri’s top scorer during the qualifying round.
Key Matchup: Mexico vs. France
Mexico needs to prove to the world that they’re a team to be taken seriously. Look for a lot of finesse from both teams. Whoever wins this matchup will most likely win group A and move to the next round.
The Mexican team will fight its way out of the group stage and into the knockout rounds. If paired up against the right team, El Tri could make it to the quarterfinals. But they will be a long way from their home turf, and the hostile environment in South Africa could spell disaster for a team that struggles on the road.
Related link: World Cup 2010 Countdown