Mexico has been a traditional powerhouse in the CONCACAF region. The last time Mexico missed the World Cup was in 1990 because of suspension for age related problems in the youth system. They almost missed this edition because of poor play on the field. Former England skipper Sven-Goran Eriksson took the helm of Mexico and it was thought he would leave Mexico to an easy qualification. After loses to the United States and Honduras he was shown the door. The Mexican Federation brought back Javier Aguirre who coached Mexico in the 2002 World Cup where Mexico was eliminated by the United States. His first match in charge Mexico lost, but had an unbeaten run of five matches that put them a last minute US goal, by Jonathan Borstein against Costa Rica, from winning the CONCACAF group.
Key Players for Mexico:
Andres Guardado – Plays for Deportivo La Coruna in La Liga. He was player of the year for the club in the 2007-2008 season. He has tons of potential and could be a key piece for Mexico’s chances at the World Cup. This will be his 2nd World Cup and he is only 23!
Rafael Marquez – Plays for Barcelona in La Liga. He is a supremely gifted defender and leader. Rafael tends to be injury prone and without him on the field the Mexican defense is average at best.
Giovani dos Santos – Has failed to live up to his potential on the club level, but shines for Mexico. A solid World Cup could give him a confidence boost and change his status at the club level.
Cuauhtemoc Blanco – Left off the 2006 World Cup squad Blanco was brought in immediately upon the return of Aguirre. Blanco started the first match he was called in for and turned Mexico’s qualifying campaign around. While he is currently playing club soccer in Mexico, Blanco can thank MLS and the Chicago Fire for helping him to show he can still play at a high level.
Prediction: Quarterfinals. Mexico plays a possession-based style and will control the pace of a game. In their group they have South Africa (host and home field advantage), France (more talented), and Uruguay(hard-tackling). If Mexico as expected gets the 3 points from the first match that will give them a confidence boost going into the games against France and Uruguay. Mexico has finished between 10th and 15th the last four World Cups. The quarterfinals will be where Mexico bows out for the 3rd time in their World Cup history.