After a not-so-convincing win over Jamaica, Mexico is now in Houston, Texas where they are set to take on Venezuela on Monday night. Osorio's men enter the final match of the group stage looking to not only improve their play, but also lock up the top spot. A win or draw on Monday night for El Tri means they would finish in first place, presumably avoiding Argentina in the next stage. La Vinotinto, who is the revelation of Group C and quite possibly the tournament, has also won its first two matches and looks to continue their Cinderella run.
El Tri, although victorious over Jamaica, had a relatively sloppy game with poor decision-making and imprecise passing. Osorio will look to improve in all of those areas, and he will once again have the service of a key element of the team. Andres Guardado, who missed the match versus Jamaica after being expelled in the opening game, will be a welcomed addition to the midfield. Miguel Layun, who filled in for "El Principito", completed an adequate job, but Guardado's return will allow Osorio to use Layun in other areas of the pitch.
Osorio's lineups and formations are known to be unpredictable, yet he is not afraid to make adjustments when things are not going as planned. Against Jamaica, the issues with the lineup changes were magnified by the team's inability to be precise when they possessed the ball. Against Venezuela, Osorio will look to correct the team's deficiencies by way of changes in the lineup. However, it would not be unreasonable to think that Osorio will come out with the same formation he has used in the first two games (3-1-2-3-1). Given the correct lineup, this formation could easily be modified should he need to make a tactical adjustment like he did versus Jamaica when he went to a 4-3-3 after halftime.
Taking into consideration Osorio wants the team to play from the back, the backline and defensive midfielder will need modifications. Moreno, Araujo, and Corona were all imprecise on Thursday night and would have cost the team goals had it not been for Ochoa. Marquez' age becomes a factor when you ask him to play at midfielder for 90 minutes, and Diego Reyes has been nonexistent when asked to play there.
Assuming Osorio goes with a backline of three, since Araujo, Marquez, and Moreno played solidly together against Uruguay, he might return to them against Venezuela. Jesus Molina came on as a sub versus Jamaica at defensive midfielder and was stout, given the limited amount of time he was given. Giving Molina the opportunity from the beginning of the match could give Osorio the fluidity he is looking for in the midfield.
With Guardado back, I envision Osorio will likely play with a similar lineup from the midfield up as we saw versus Uruguay. Guardado would be paired with Layun, Herrera playing in front of them, Chicharito at striker, and Tecatito and Aquino on the wings. Notwithstanding any deviations to the lineup, Mexico needs to be precise with the ball as Venezuela will likely capitalize on any mistakes Mexico makes.
La Vinotinto have not had much success versus Mexico in the past, but they will attempt to stun their opponent and continue their surprising run. Venezuela came into the Copa with zero pressure and has exceeded any expectations anyone had. This lack of pressure has allowed the team to play loose, and their victory over Uruguay has given the team a sense of confidence. In their last two matches, Venezuela has shown that while they might not be the more talented side, they are efficient and will capitalize off of their opponent's mistakes.
El Tri must not only look to grab the top spot in Group C with a victory over Venezuela but must also do it convincingly. Winning all nine points in the group stage would be a clear statement to all of the opposition in the knockout stage of how dominant this team can be. Venezuela will not be an easy opponent and will try to win in order to avoid Argentina in the quarterfinals, but Mexico has the experience and talent to get a resounding victory Monday night.
Mexico 3-1 Venezuela - January 25, 2012 - International Friendly
Mexico defeated Venezuela, 3-1, in the same exact venue they will be playing in Monday night.
Mexico (3-1-2-3-1) Corona; Moreno, Marquez, Araujo, Molina, Guardado, Layun, Herrera, Tecatito, Aquino, Chicharito.
Venezuela (4-2-3-1) Hernandez; Rosales, Angel, Vizcarrondo, Fletscher, Rincon, Figuera, Guerra, Martinez, Seijas, Rondon.