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Mexico vs. Paraguay, 2019 friendly: What to watch for

Chile v Mexico Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images

There were plenty of positives to take from Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s debut with the Mexico National Team. Now, El Tri travel to Northern California to take on Paraguay. Will Mexico keep things rolling or will Paraguay get a rare win over the CONCACAF giants?

What To Watch For

Chicharito getting the start. If you are a Mexican striker in the English Premier League right now, you are having the time of your life. Both Raul Jimenez and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez have been on a tear lately and have suddenly given Martino a surefire option up front. Martino did warn beforehand that he would rotate strikers, and with Raul Jimenez getting the start against Chile, it’s Chicharito’s turn to go up. While Jimenez offers more tactical flexibility than his West Ham counterpart, Chicharito remains a goalscoring threat no matter the team he plays for and will undoubtedly be one of the points of focus in Martino’s system for this match.

Mexico’s wide players. Chicharito will have no shortage of service from the wings. After Rodolfo Pizarro and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano shined in Mexico’s past friendly against Chile, it looks like it will be the youngster’s turn to deliver. In theory, it could be a tough matchup for Diego Lainez given Paraguay’s physical style of play, but in the case of Roberto Alvarado, the Cruz Azul youngster could be primed for a good game. What was interesting against the game against Chile was the ability of the wide players to occupy open spaces and move almost seamlessly between each other. It would be difficult to expect something similar from Lainez and Alvarado, but this is what these type of games are all about. To experiment and learn new things.

The return of “Gallito” Vazquez. Say what you want about Jose Juan “Gallito” Vazquez but there isn’t another defensive midfielder in Mexico quite like him. Gallito isn’t going to beat anybody in the air and he is not suddenly going to burst out and power through two defenders like an Hector Herrera. He is an old school defensive midfielder, and that’s part of the intrigue behind him. Gallito is there to make the simple pass and correct everybody’s mistakes in the midfield.

Obviously, Juan Carlos Osorio had his reasons for not calling him up and odds are that Edson Alvarez is still the defensive midfielder of the future for Mexico, but if the first game is anything to go by, Gallito could be a constant in future call ups. The reason is Mexico’s interior midfielders under Martino are probably going to be given the green light to press forward more often than with Osorio, which means Gallito appears to be in a nice spot, even coming off the bench.

Lineup Prediction

It’s been widely reported that we can expect wholesale changes from the first game. In goal, we will likely see Raul Gudiño get the start. Guillermo Ochoa was once again fantastic in El Tri’s last game, but with age quickly becoming a factor, one of these young goalkeepers is going to need to step up sooner rather than later.

In defense, it looks like Martino will go with a line of four, with Jorge Sanchez, Diego Reyes, Nestor Araujo, and Miguel Layun getting the nod. At first glance, Reyes and Araujo’s aerial ability could play key role in this match, while Jorge Sanchez remains one of the more intriguing options in the Mexico National Team’s player pool ahead of Qatar 2022. Here, the 21-year-old Club América defender has a good chance to impress Martino.

The midfielders will be the aforementioned Gallito Vazquez, Erick Gutierrez and Jonathan dos Santos. On paper, both Gutierrez and dos Santos can play the same role as Carlos Rodriguez and Andres Guardado did against Chile, and you’d expect them to have the same freedom to move around and roam into free spaces like the previous pair did in San Diego.

Finally, we can expect Diego Lainez, Roberto Alvarado, and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez up top. All three shouldn’t expect much of a shock under Tata Martino’s system, and in fact, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Chicharito and Alvarez constantly exchange positions on the left.

Match Prediction

Paraguay have always been something of a cake walk for El Tri, as Mexico have won each of their last five meetings versus La Albirroja. Of course, Paraguay are not bad team, but they’ve been in something of a crisis lately. Given that, you have to think Mexico have just about enough to get the victory.