By DAN KARELL
After a difficult qualification process, Mexico are set to enter the 2014 World Cup with all of their high-profile stars.
At a press conference in Mexico City on Friday afternoon, Mexico National Team manager Miguel Herrera named his 23-man squad for Brazil, including European-based players such as Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Giovani Dos Santos, and Guillermo Ochoa, as well as captain Rafa Marquez.
The squad is a talented mix of youth and veteran experience, with FC Porto’s Diego Reyes and Hector Herrera making the first of likely many World Cup squads, while Carlos Salcido, Francisco “Maza” Rodriguez, and even Oribe Peralta could be playing in their final World Cup.
Many members of the Mexican press had speculated that Miguel Herrera would pick one of Raul Jimenez or Alan Pulido, but the El Tri boss decided to take both. Instead, Herrera left off up-and-coming midfielder Javier Aquino, defender Juan Carlos “Topo” Valenzuela and midfielder Gerardo Torrado.
Speedy winger Pablo Barrera just returned to fitness from torn knee ligaments but did not have enough time to make the El Tri squad.
While Herrera did include many Europeans, he also called-up much of the core that helped Mexico qualify for the World Cup in the first place. Herrera will likely start Jose de Jesus Corona in goal, Marquez in defense, Luis Montes and Carlos Peña in midfield, and possibly Oribe Peralta up top in Herrera’s patented 5-3-2 formation.
An interesting note is that Andres Guardado is listed as a defender, likely playing as left wing-back for El Tri.
Prior to their World Cup opening match against Cameroon on June 13, Mexico will play four friendly matches across North America. El Tri first will host Israel at Estadio Azteca on May 28 and then face the first of three fellow World Cup participants in Ecuador on May 31 at AT&T Stadium outside of Dallas.
On June 3, El Tri will take on Bosnia and Herzegovina in Chicago before finishing their pre-World Cup tour on June 6 against Portugal at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.
Here’s a closer look at Mexico’s World Cup roster:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Jesús Corona, Guillermo Ochoa, Alfredo Talavera
DEFENDERS (8): Andrés Guardado, Rafael Márquez, Héctor Moreno, Diego Reyes, Francisco “Maza” Rodríguez, Miguel Layún, Paul Aguilar, Carlos Salcido
MIDFIELDERS (7): Juan Carlos Medina, Marco Fabian, Héctor Herrera, Luis Montes, Juan José “Gallito” Vázquez, Carlos Alberto “Gullit” Peña, Isaac Brizuela
FORWARDS (5): Alan Pulido, Raúl Jiménez, Oribe Peralta, Giovani dos Santos, Javier “Chicharito” Hernández
What do you think of this squad? Do you think they can gel together to get out of their group? Are you confident that Mexico can play better than they did in most of World Cup qualifying? Surprised with any of the selections?
Share your thoughts below.