The Mexico National Team kicked off their participation in the 2019 Gold Cup with a 7-0 thumping over Cuba. The result was hardly a surprise, as El Tri was facing a vastly inferior Cuban side.
However, things are set to get a lot tougher now, and next in the horizon is Canada. The Canadians arrive on the back of a 4-0 win over Martinique, and on paper stand as El Tri’s toughest opponent of the Group Stage phase.
Without further ado, here are three things to watch for as Mexico look for their second win of the Gold Cup.
Will Gerardo “Tata” Martino rotate? This was a hot topic of debate in his post-game press conference following the win over Cuba. Martino seemed adamant that it will be business as usual against Canada, but you’d imagine we will see at least one change to the starting XI.
Obviously, Canada offers a completely different proposition than Cuba, and while maybe Martino doesn’t have to go full Juan Carlos Osorio, adapting to the rival isn’t bad thing. We know a lot of Canada’s gameplan revolves around Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and the liberty he has moving forward, and in that regard, making the necessary tactical adjustments down the right-hand side could be important.
There is also the injury front. Let’s not forget that hat-trick hero Uriel Antuna only got the start because of Rodolfo Pizarro’s late scratch. Rumor has it Pizarro won’t be available to play again, but Jonathan dos Santos might be ready to go after being unavailable against Cuba.
Will Mexico be able to keep a cleansheet? It hasn’t been said much, but prior to Mexico’s 7-0 win over Cuba, Mexico had failed to grab a cleansheet in each of their last four games under Gerardo “Tata” Martino.
El Tri hasn’t always been know for its defensive capabilities, and if Canada manage to make a close game out of this, there is no doubt they’ll do it by putting Mexico’s defense in some sort of pressure.
Recently, Canada have been on a tear offensively, scoring at least four goals in four of their last five matches. None of those rivals, of course, were close to the level of Mexico, but that doesn’t mean El Tri should take it easy against their northern rivals.
Can Raul Jimenez and Uriel Antuna keep it going? Understandably, Raul Jimenez caught some flak for scoring only twice against Cuba, but the fact of the matter is it would have been a lot more worrying if he hadn’t scored at all. Here, Raul Jimenez has a real opportunity to consolidate himself as Mexico’s main offensive threat with a similar performance, as well as shut some of his haters up.
Meanwhile, Uriel Antuna seems locked in as a permanent starter after his three-goal thriller over Cuba, but there is no way he will receive the same liberties against a defense like Canada’s. The real challenge for Antuna will be balancing his defensive duties with those arrowing forward runs that earned him so much praise against Cuba. If Antuna can remain efficient on both sides of the ball, there is no denying Antuna will remain a big part of Martino’s system for this tournament going forward.
What are you expecting from Mexico’s match versus Canada?