Anything can happen in tournament football and that’s exactly the mantra that the whole of Mexico will be clinging on to going in to the World Cup. El Tri were dragged to the tournament like a drunkard being kicked out of a bar by the United States, and will be hoping there’s no recurrences of that this summer.
Mexico were awful in qualifying and it was only thanks to the US of A that they made it to the tournament. Stoppage time goals from American’s Aron Johannsson and Graham Zusi against Panama in a nothing got Mexico into the tournament, if it wasn’t for ‘San Zusi’ - the Mexican public’s newest saviour - they would have missed their first World Cup since 1990.
That’s how close it was to heartbreak for pueblo Mexicano. The manager during qualifying was sacked and in came Miguel Herrera, otherwise known as ‘The Louse’. Herrera is an incredibly passionate man that wears his heart on his sleeve and all the other cliches in the book about loving his country etc.
The team is immensely different now to the on from qualifying, the changes that Herrera have brought in are incredibly obvious and despite only playing in friendly’s under his guidance, the Mexican public believe again and have a level of optimism that no one would have even imagined possible under Chepo.
But how far exactly can they go down in Brazil?
Second place is an entirely plausible possibility. The consensus is that the host nation has the number one spot in that group sewn up like you wouldn’t believe. Brazil in Brazil daren’t lose and it would be a shock if they didn’t completely sweep Group A.
Cameroon are unlikely to cause any trouble whatsoever- they went out in the group stages in South Africa and didn’t even qualify for 2006, making Croatia the biggest threat to qualification. The Blazers may not have qualified in 2010 but they have a much better squad now than before. Luka Modric is one of the best central midfielders in world football and Ivan Rakitic alongside him looks set to join Barcelona. Mateo Kovacic is the team's young wonderkid while in Mario Mandzukic they have one of the top goal scorers in Europe for Bayern Munich. Their manager is inexperienced though and that can harm them in Brazil.
Things will be tough but getting out of the group is a very real possibility for Mexico. They have talented players and a rejuvenated atmosphere around the setup. Oribe Peralta can score goals, Javier Hernandez will do as well if the given a chance. Gio dos Santos is an incredibly talented playmaker while Hector Herrera, Alan Pulido and Raul Jimenez are all talented youngsters that could break out.
The Louse’s 3-5-2 formation will be new to teams that face Mexico and that could work in their favour. The team attack and defend as a unit and their fluid football could take them above expectations. I expect them to come second in Group A and reach the round of 16, where unfortunately they will meet their end against reigning champions Spain.