Our Copa America squad previews continue with a closer look at Mexico.
México travel to meet their Latin American counterparts after yet another Gold Cup triumph over the United States. The squad largely made up of youth and fringe players has been rocked by scandal but el Tri has a fine tradition at this tournament to maintain. It’s worth bearing in mind that México have reached the last four on five of their seven Copa América appearances.
Momento de gloria
México were first invited south of the border to take part in 1993 Copa América when Ecuador played host. Despite defeat to Colombia, a pair of draws against Bolivia and Argentina allowed el Tri to squeeze through to the knock-out phase. It was in the quarter-final that Miguel Mejía Barón’s Mexico found their groove. They slapped Perú 4-2 before eliminating the hosts to book a place in the final. El Tri’s debut at the Copa América ended just like their last two World Cups, with defeat to Argentina.
El director técnico
Luis Fernando Tena’s playing career with some of México’s top clubs earned him the nickname Capitán Furia. The committed centre-back has since brought his defensive nous into the dugout and currently serves as assistant to México’s Gold Cup winning head coach José Manuel de la Torre. Tena acted swiftly to send home the eight players at the centre of a robbery in the México team hotel during the build-up to this Copa América. Even with this disruption, Tena still hopes to use this Copa América as a fertile testing ground for many of the players México hope to send to the 2012 Olympics. Tena favours a system of three centre-backs and just one up top.
As the only player over 30-years-old in the México squad, goalkeeper Luis Michel is the outstanding candidate to captain his team at the Copa América. Michel waited patiently at Chivas to get his chance after years of bench warming for Oswaldo Sánchez. This time was not spent in vain however as Michel worked on his game in addition to acquiring an engineering degree. Since Michel was installed as number one at Chivas he has been among the club’s star performers. Chivas’ run to the 2010 Copa Libertadores final saw the custodian in tip-top form.
Anyone who is yet to witness Giovani Dos Santos’ wonder strike in the Gold Cup final would be well advised to dig it out for a look. While Gio continues to be shunned by Tottenham Hotspur the attacker remains a leading light for the Mexican national side. Gio talked of quitting the team after his brother Jonathan of Barcelona was expelled from the squad but now the rumpus has died down, the Spurs’ player has recommitted himself to the cause. Fans of el Tri will be hoping that Gio can carry his Gold Cup form into the Copa América and also take on his fair share of responsibility as one of the team’s most experienced players.
Rafael Márquez Lugo is commonly called ‘the other Rafa Marquez’ in his homeland but the striker has been handed a great opportunity to emerge from the shadows. Lugo will be leading the line for México in Argentina and the number nine will be hoping to display the kind of sharp shooting which has made him such a threat back home. Expect a wild celebration from Lugo if he finds the net at the Copa América and finally gets the monkey off his back of never having scored for his national team.
One of the players in México’s squad who has already opened his international account is Edgar Pacheco after he chipped home against Bosnia & Herzegovina earlier in the year. The utility man is best deployed on the right flank but at his former club Atlas he was used in every position on the pitch, even between the sticks. When he’s not wearing the gloves, the 21-year-old freely fires off rockets with his right foot from set-pieces and open play.
Familiar names such as Chicharito Hernández and Efraín Juárez are out of the Mexican squad after serving their time at the Gold Cup. The Mexican dirty two thirds of a dozen have also been given the month off following their bout of indiscipline in Ecuador. Carlos Vela’s tough time with Arsenal continues to see him frozen out of the national set-up while Erick Torres, dubbed ‘the new Chicharito’, will play the under-20 World Cup instead of the Copa América.
Rumores de transferencia
Erick Torres to Manchester United, Giovani Dos Santos out of Tottenham Hotspur, Carlos Vela out of Arsenal.
When Luis Michel finally plucked up the courage to ask out long-time family friend Ileana Lomeli he got the answer he wanted. Lomeli has since accepted Michel’s safe hands in marriage.
Síguelo en Twitter
@efrajuarez - Gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooool del CELTIC!!!!!!!!
La opinión experta
For the coach and myself it’s important that we get things right at the back. If we can keep things tight and keep the opposition at bay it will give us a platform to express ourselves further up the pitch. This team is coming to Argentina to get results and use the opportunity as a stage to show our talent. Chances like this don’t come often in a players’ career and every member of the squad is getting ready to seize the opportunity of playing in the Copa América. We all have great faith in the coach and whatever he asks us to do out on the pitch we will do. During the build-up I have been talking to the young guys in the squad and I’ll do my best to lead by example during the tournament. It’s important guys like Giovani Dos Santos, Héctor Reynoso and myself help out in anyway we can. The opening match against Chile is going to be tough but if we can match them for intensity and make sure we win the ball back early we have a chance of getting a result.
Luis Michel - Mexican goalkeeper and captain
With the Gold Cup safely tucked up in Mexico City the required silverware count has already been matched by el Tri. Now, with the scandal that cost the squad eight players ahead of the Copa América, we see a Mexican team travelling more out of hope than expectation. Progressing to the knock-out rounds will see Tena and his tactics given a big thumbs up back home.
A match with Perú provides the meat between slices of Chile and Uruguay. México will look to compete with the two fancied teams and take points from Perú. If the plan works out, a third place finish in Group C resulting in a quarter-finals berth is not out of the question.
¿Por qué ser fanático?
There’s nothing fake about México’s love of wrestling. Mexican’s taste for the tussle reaches far beyond the ring with lucha libre permeating popular culture through slang, music, movies and a catalogue of books. Mexican football fans have even adopted the wrestling mask as their own and will be baiting their team to pull off some high-impact moves in Argentina. ¡Vamos luchadores!
¿Un club en League Two?
México’s Green Army were first introduced to football by Cornish miners who came to the city of Pachuca over 100 years ago. Fans of Plymouth Argyle are still waiting on these same miners to cross the Tamar River and teach them how the game is played.
The tequila is a-slamming and the burritos are a-wrapping down at la Glorieta del Ángel de la Independencia! Bring out the mariachi band or cue up the ranchera, either way this piñata is coming down.
They don’t need the excuse of November 5th to get a good bonfire burning in México. The government’s crack down on the country’s drug cartels has seen blazes being lit all over the show in recent years. Last year, 134 tons of marijuana went up in smoke during one such burning following a raid on the Sinaloa cartel. After tossing a match on the score, Mexican soldier Lucio Rangel commented, “Only the little angels in heaven are going to get stoned tonight.”
Goalkeepers: Liborio Sánchez (Querétaro, MEX), Carlos Rodríguez (Morelia, MEX), Luis Michel (Guadalajara, MEX).
Defenders: Diego Reyes (América, MEX), Paul Aguilar (América, MEX), Néstor Araujo (Cruz Azul, MEX), Darwin Chávez (Monterrey, MEX), Hiram Mier (Monterrey, MEX), Kristian Álvarez (Chivas, MEX), Miguel Ángel Ponce (Guadalajara, MEX), Héctor Reynoso (Guadalajara, MEX).
Midfields: Jorge García (Guadalajara, MEX), Diego De Buen (Pumas, MEX), Antonio Gallardo (Guadalajara, MEX), Edgar Pacheco (Atlas, MEX), Carlos Emilio Orrantia (Pumas, MEX).
Forwards: Javier Aquino (Cruz Azul, MEX), Giovani Dos Santos (Tottenham, ENG), Alan Pulido (Tigres, MEX), Oribe Peralta (Santos, MEX), Ulisés Dávila (Chivas, MEX), Rafael Márquez Lugo (Morelia, MEX).
v Chile 04/07/2011 21:45 San Juan
v Perú 08/07/2011 21:45 Mendoza
v Uruguay 12/07/2011 21:45 La Plata
FIFA ranking: 9
Odds to win: 50/1
Copa America record: P38 W19 D7 L12 F55 A44
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