World Cup Team Guide: Mexico
Back off, son. Jorge Osorio shows his opponent who's boss...
Mexico have a decent pedigree in the World Cup and tend to get out of the group stages but that's as far as they normally go. They have a good manager and a pretty experienced side but in a tough group they have their work cut out to just get out of it this time...
"Javier Aguirre did an excellent job to qualify them after Sven Goran Eriksson had made a real mess of his time in charge. One worry that I always have with Mexico, though, is the extent to which their home form provides the bedrock of every qualifying effort for the World Cup. They won all five of their matches at the Azteca, but were not so successful away from home, losing to both Honduras and El Salvador."
This is Mexico's fifth consecutive appearance at a World Cup, and they've managed to reach the last 16 at their last four attempts, with their inability to move into the real business end of the tournament a constant frustration to the fans who feel that they're nearly good enough to deliver a proper challenge.
Javier Aguirre did an excellent job to qualify them after Sven Goran Eriksson had made a real mess of his time in charge. One worry that I always have with Mexico, though, is the extent to which their home form provides the bedrock of every qualifying effort for the World Cup. They won all five of their matches at the Azteca, but were not so successful away from home, losing to both Honduras and El Salvador. And guess the venue when they reached their only two World Cup quarter finals? You got it in one - Mexico.
The fact that they managed to win a crunch game in Costa Rica means that they've maybe gone some way to curing their travel sickness, though, so they'll feel with some justification that they have a live chance of getting out of Group A. That said, I'd ignore their much touted win in the CONCACAF Gold Cup which came against a hugely under strength USA team.
Mexico will also be a team which is well worth watching in terms of the over 2.5 goals market. In CONCACAF Round 3, 4 of their 6 games had over 2.5 goals, in Round 4, the final round of qualifying, 7 of their 10 games had over 2.5 goals, a total of 11 out of 16 games with "overs". If France underperform, then their steadiness and ability to score when it matters gives them a chance of making it through.
COACH: Javier AGUIRRE
The Mexicans have had four managers since last World Cup, but have certainly found their man in the shape of the former Atletico Madrid coach. Aguirre turned things round after the bigger names of Sven Goran Eriksson and Hugo Sanchez had made a real mess of qualifying. If you like your backroom to have a backbone then Aguirre is your man. He's tough and uncompromising, and his bizarre on-field intervention in the Gold Cup match against Panama showed how much he cares and how much he wants to get things right in his second spell in charge.
Only his fellow defender Carlos Salcido had more game time in the qualifiers than the impressive Osorio, and the central defender from Stuttgart will be crucial as Mexico look to find a defensive platform on which to build. The Mexicans were porous in the early qualifying stages against some pretty average opposition, but they got stronger as the competition went on, and much of that was down to Osorio the organiser.
Going forward, Javier Aguirre has some fascinating selectorial dilemmas, but I think that he has to find a place in his line up for the veteran Guille Franco, now of West Ham United. Franco only started five games in qualifying, but he scored two crucial goals, and that compares favourably with the record of the Arsenal youngster Carlos Vela, who played twelve qualifiers but managed only three, two of those against Belize. Franco has a brilliant knowledge of his position, and is adept at bringing others into play, which will be key given the way that Mexico line up tactically. Much will be made of Vela and the overrated and over-the-hill Cuahtemoc Blanco (a player who made a career out of one trick), but if Franco doesn't line up, then I'll be less interested in backing Mexico.
Given their struggle for consistency in front of goal, Mexico's three key players should probably all be strikers, but their goalkeeper is so impressive that he deserves a mention. Ochoa was exceptional in qualifying, especially when it mattered, and he conceded only four goals in the last five qualifiers. He's still based in Mexico, at America, but will almost certainly move to Europe in time for next season.
Recommended Bet: Mexico to beat South Africa in the World Cup opening game @ [2.6]