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Mexico and the friendlies they need before the 2018 World Cup

Mexico will need to prepare after drawing one of the toughest groups of the World Cup

Estadio Azteca in Mexico City is one of the most historic stadiums in the entire world.
Estadio Azteca at the Mexico vs Israel farewall match for the 2014 World Cup
Rafael Hernandez

The World Cup draw happened on Friday and it went terribly for Mexico. El Tri is in the group with World Cup champion Germany, arguably the favorite to win the tournament, Sweden, a tough European team that plays in a style that Mexico always has trouble against, and South Korea. While the Koreans are an Asian powerhouse, they have seen better days and it's the only team where Mexico were somewhat lucky in drawing.

Of course, Mexico plays to their best potential, they should go through along with Germany, but it will be extremely tough. Juan Carlos Osorio knows the situation is tough and he says Mexico will plan accordingly to face the challenge.

Knowing the rivals, Mexico should start to look for friendlies. My personal idea of what are the best rivals to get goes by two rules

A) Teams that play in a similar style to those that Mexico will face in the World Cup, ESPECIALLY if they aren't used to playing them.

B) Powerhouse teams and good teams that have rivals similar to Mexico's style

Teams in Group A should be a priority, but a powerhouse team should never be turned down, especially with the advantage of them needing Mexico's "help". Thus the possibilities for what Mexico should look for have a clear pattern. Mexico only has one friendly so far set up, against Bosnia and Herzegovina in January. They don't fit either of the rules, but it's a non FIFA friendly, that is only going to be done to see fringe Liga MX players. To me, these are the teams that Mexico should strive to play against.

Iceland v Czech Republic - International Friendly Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Iceland/Denmark - These are the two teams Mexico should really go after. Both are teams with a similar composition to Sweden. Iceland is the one who has a closer style to Sweden than the more offensive Denmark. The Danish side, however, is also of a similar height and style of that to the one the Swedes have. The best thing is that because Iceland plays Argentina and Denmark plays Peru, they both should be interested in facing a team like Mexico.

France v Spain - International Friendly Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

France- No team really plays like Germany, but France is a powerhouse team that also has a strong European squad. The big thing in looking at a team like the French is the fact that they are in the same group as Peru, which means Mexico would have a golden opportunity to try to convince a French team that would be served well to play against El Tri.

Belgium v Japan - International Friendly Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Japan- Although not quite the same as South Korea, they are as close to them as any good team is. Japan will also play Colombia, another team with a similar style to Mexico, if not a similar composition.

England vs Brazil - International Friendly Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

England-This one is actually based on strong rumors before the World Cup Draw. If the Friendly is still on, the game looks less of an advantage for England. England will face fellow CONCACAF team Panama, but style-wise and from a team composition, Mexico really doesn't have much similarity with them. Hopefully the friendly goes through before the English FA decides to go with a more similar team like Honduras.

Switzerland v Northern Ireland - FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: Second Leg Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Switzerland- the team in the World Cup which Mexico seems to play the closest to might be Costa Rica. Since Brazil probably will not go for a friendly against Mexico, knowing they are strong candidates to face each other in the Round of 16 (plus the recent history where Mexico has become sort of a bogey team for them), the best candidate to take advantage of this might be the Swiss. The Swiss are also a very strong defensive team that, like Sweden, might rely on their defensive makeup. They are a good test, and who knows if it might pay off in a Round of 16, where they might face of each other once again.

Romania v Finland - UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

Finland- This one is complicated. Finland might be of a similar style but aren't near the level of the other Nordic teams. The thing is that one of the friendlies set for Mexico is to be a farewell game at the Estadio Azteca. History shows that getting a rival for this game might be tough. Mexico City's altitude, plus the fact that it's has nothing to do with a World Cup in Russia, means that the rival is probably not going to be a team preparing for the World Cup. In 2014, Israel was the team that Mexico faced at the Azteca. If Mexico has to get a non-World Cup rival again, Finland might be the best choice for an easy rival that plays quite similiar to Sweden. This means the friendly can be useful in both ways, both as a rival that Mexico can defeat in front of a home crowd and one they can use as preparation for a key World Cup game.

Mexico has it's work cut out but this is nothing new. Hopefully, Osorio knows this and the FMF helps Mexico prepare him for it. Mexico’s recent World Cup success has been based on some of the best preparation for a World Cup of all teams, and one hopes this trend continues.