Mexico had a sluggish performance on Saturday and finish off their FIFA date with another friendly tonight against Paraguay. It is nearly a brand new starting XI with Diego Reyes as the only hold over. Injuries forced Piojo’s hand but this should be a good look at the base of the Copa America team.
Mexico v Paraguay. 8:00PM (central time) on ESPN & UniMas
It can be said that Mexico will be starting 3 defensive minded midfielders tonight. They will need to be cognizant of the forwards in front, who will need service. This was done mostly due to missing players leaving Piojo with fewer options than he would have liked. All 3 are more comfortable in the middle of the field and it will be interesting to see if they can stay out each other’s space. The wingbacks will be counted on even more this game to provide width and attacking options. Layun and Aguilar hardly participated in the attack on Saturday, Torres Nilo and Dueñas will need to improve on that.
Mexico will likely be down to 19 players this game with: Memo, Tecatito, Damm, and Guardado leaving camp for family/injury reasons. FC Twente has already announced a thigh injury for Tecatito. Jurgen picked up a knock in the last training session and will miss out getting a start. Memo and Guardado will miss out during to the impending birth of their children. Piojo stressed that family comes first and did not want the players in camp nervous about their situations back home. Some people are reading too much into Memo leaving camp after Corona had his best outing for Mexico. I think this is different than 2013 when Memo declined a call up if he was not going to be the starter. There is even talk that Piojo will try to negotiate with Malaga to bring Memo for the US in a couple of weeks.
New Forward Duo
Jimenez will get the nod up top with newcomer Lalo Herrera. In practice, the two have been paired up together in preparation for this start. Herrera has been playing well in Mexico and will look to take advantage of this opportunity. He is a player that can make either the Copa America or Gold Cup team. He would stand to get more minutes on the Copa team. Jimenez came into the camp coming off, arguably, his best game for Atletico Madrid. While his minutes have been few, Raul’s development has continued under Cholo in Madrid. A good performance tonight should give his coach further proof of that.
I wrote in my last preview about Mexico’s defense and in pretty much every preview since I started this blog. It just has not been good enough. If it was not for Corona, El Tri would have been embarrassed in front of nearly 100k fans. Too many mistakes and lack of communication led to a leaky back line all night. I was hoping Moreno would be able to organize his troops but the back line was ineffective all night long. With Memo going back to Spain, Meliton Hernandez will be the starter after arriving in camp on Sunday. A new back line and agoalkeeper with minimal practice time together? It might be a bumpy ride for El Tri tonight.
Donde Esta Diego
Diego Reyes is the only one getting another crack at it tonight. He is the only player starting both matches and might be the player in most need of minutes. Many of his mistakes were just sloppy and looked like a player who has barely seen the bench this season, much less the field. It was the worst game I have seen him play in a long time. He seemed to lose confidence as the game went on and even gave up a (soft) penalty. Luckily for him and Mexico, Corona bailed him out and made the nice save.
I am starting to think that Porto might even release him for the US friendly in April if they have no need for him back in Portugal. I know that Piojo is already talking to them to do just that. Not so fast, he is Champions League registered and will likely be called upon due to suspensions/injuries. Porto are unlikely to release him for the US friendly. Reyes has tons of potential but he needs to start showing more than small glimpses of it.