Mexico Team - 2014 World Cup Betting
Best Finish: Quarterfinals, 1970, 1986
Manager: Miguel Herrera
Captain: Rafael Marquez
Key Player: Javier Hernández (Manchester United)
Group A: With Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia
It's not surprising that Mexico advanced to the World Cup again, given that they've done so five times in a row. What is surprising, though, is how much they struggled to make it out of the CONCACAF qualifying round. Ranked second out of 35 teams in the region, Mexico crushed the third round, going 6-0-0 (W-D-L) with Costa Rica in their group. But the final round was a much different story as they finished 2-5-3 and took fourth behind the three automatic qualifiers, USA, Costa Rica and Honduras.
Following their dismal qualifying performance, manager Victor Vucetich was sacked and replaced with Miguel Herrera. The change seems to have worked because Mexico crushed New Zealand 9-3 on the aggregate playoff score to make the Cup.
What really hurt Mexico during CONCACAF qualifiers was their inability to score goals, as they found the net just seven times during 10 matches. This is surprising, seeing as how one of this team's biggest strengths is attacking. "El Tri" may have some more confidence after scoring nine goals in the two-legged playoff against New Zealand.
One thing that boosted Mexico's offense during the playoff was Herrera installing a 5-3-2 formation, with an emphasis on operating the attack directly through the midfield. This system is excellent for counterstrikes, but it will also require the back line to be more on point. That said, captain and center back Rafael Marquez is very important to El Tri's defensive efforts.
Going back to offense, Mexico's ability to score will heavily depend on how well Javier Hernández plays. He hasn't played a lot for Manchester United nor does he possess a stellar all-around game. But what the 25-year-old can undeniably do well is score goals. The striker found the net five times during CONCACAF qualifiers and he'll need to keep doing so for Mexico to excel.
Oribe Peralta will also be a big cog in the attack. The hero of Mexico's 2012 Olympic gold medal run, he scored five goals during the 9-2 aggregate route of New Zealand and had 10 goals overall during CONCACAF matches. The 30-year-old striker brings both veteran leadership and exceptional skills to the table.
In terms of talent, Mexico can compete with many of the top teams at the 2014 World Cup. And they've made the knockout stage for five straight Cups, with all of these runs ending in a Last 16 exit. So consistency will be the key – especially on offense – if Mexico is to go any further this time around.