The lineup is out and nearly features a whole new team (Paul Aguilar being the only exception). This was to be expected given that is how Piojo has treated the 2nd game in the post-WC friendlies. The way I look at it, Netherlands was the main course and Belarus will be the dessert. The new look lineup sees the Dos Santos hermanos starting together for El Tri. Something we thought would be a common occurrence but has not happened for a couple of years now.
Here is what I will be keeping my eye on.
Will the Gio & Raul Partnership Work?
Sparks were flying last game w/Vela & Chicharito rekindling their striker partnership. Gio and Raul will be expected to pick up where they left off. This game is even more important for Jimenez, he is in search of playing at Atletico Madrid. A strong game for Mexico is something he wants to bring back to his club and to his manager to review.
This midfield’s experience is a far cry from the Guardado/Herrera/Gallito trio of the Netherlands game. This is especially true of 20yr old Ponchito Gonzalez. He has less than 50 LigaMX games under his belt. The fact that Piojo brought him to Europe shows he has confidence in the youngster’s ability. Tecatito made an impact just minutes after making his debut in the last match. He will now get the chance to start and show fans what he has learned playing in Europe. Jonathan Dos Santos is a player who was expected to be a national team mainstay but hit a few road blocks in his career. He did not help himself by refusing to go out on loan to receive valuable playing time. Jona tried to fight for a spot in Barcelona but was never able to break through. Not surprising since Barca was arguably one of the greatest club teams ever during the last couple of years. Following an injury last season, he moved to Villarreal in the summer and has played well so far. His playing time has increased as the season has gone along. It will be interesting to see how he plays in the middle in this type of formation. A formation he has likely never played in.
New Look Defense…Again
Same old story. Piojo needs defenders. He routinely trots out a new 5-man backline each game. He would have done it this game too if not for an injury. Talavera is making sure Memo knows he is right behind him for the starting GK job. The lack of playing time for Ochoa has not really shown in his national team form but if it were to dip, I don’t think Piojo will blink if he has to use Talavera instead. Belarus is coming off a 3-0 loss to Spain over the weekend and struggled throughout the match to get anything going forward. The defense should be aiming to start another scoreless streak against a struggling attack.
Kickoff is at 11:00AM (Central Time) on UniMas and ESPN News
Let us know in the comments your predictions for the match. I am going w/2-0, goals by Gio and Tecatito.