Mexico ended a busy summer with a semi-final exit in the 2017 Gold Cup. El Tri find themselves back on the pitch in this round of World Cup Qualifiers. Through six games, Mexico sits at the top of the table with 14 points. In the next set of World Cup Qualifier games, Mexico host Panama at the Azteca.
Here are some key points to highlight and what to expect for the team.
Mexico vs Panama World Cup Qualifier Preview
One True Fullback
Juan Carlos Osorio didn’t include a single true fullback in his 23-man roster. It’s a disappointment considering Paul Aguilar looks like he has returned to his old form, and Luis Fuentes has also been playing well for his club. After losing Erick Gutierrez and Elias Hernandez, Raul Lopez and Cesar Montes got the call-up. Jesus Gallardo has been pretty good at left back but it is not really his position. Osorio has also played Gallardo at left back in the formation switch to a 3-4-3. With Osorio, who really knows what he might do. Come Friday we will see the XI he puts on the field.
Players Out of Position
It won’t be a surprise to see Osorio put many players out of position. Looking at the 23-man squad, this looks like a solid squad to get the three points, right? Osorio has been known for putting players out of position. With that possible scenario, we have seen this team struggle to perform on the pitch. With expectations set high and the team looking to close out the qualifiers at the top of the group, Osorio needs to assemble the perfect squad with players in their right position to get the three points against Panama.
Mexico look to bounce back after a stressful summer by continuing their golden form in World Cup Qualifying. El Tri are undefeated through six World Cup Qualifier games and have allowed only two goals; both which came from border rivals U.S. On paper, Mexico are the best team but will lack confidence after a rough Confederations Cup. It will be interesting to see how that might affect this team. 16 out of the 23 that went to the Confederations Cup were called up this round of qualifiers. A win against Panama will surely secure them a spot into Russia 2018.
I’m going to go with a 2-0 victory for Mexico. Osorio has a team that can easily take the three points from Panama. Still, six points over these two games will surely silence the critics a bit after such a disappointing summer for El Tri. Anything less than three points at the Azteca will be a dagger to the confidence of this team and their fans.