Mexico faces a busy summer with regards to tournaments and number of games the senior national team will play. Tonight, in Houston’s Reliant Stadium, the Mexican National Team will play a friendly against African champions Nigeria. Yet, the play of the National Team so far in 2013 has not been what many expected from them as they currently find themselves fifth in CONCACAF World Cup standings after three games played with three World Cup qualifiers coming up in a two week span.
In their friendly tonight against Nigeria, Mexico must achieve and answer two vital questions before embarking on a busy summer and playing three crucial World Cup qualifiers. The two questions that the side coached by Jose Manuel De La Torre must answer are being effective in the final third and tactical options.
The main issue for the Mexican National Team so far has been the inability to not only score but create any scoring chances in the final third. This issue has been most apparent in two of the three World Cup qualifiers played and in both friendly matches so far. While the team has done well to control and maintain possession, its ability to do so has been rendered useless as when it has come to creating scoring chances, Mexico has failed to do so. Tonight against Nigeria, Mexico will need to work on and make a concerted effort to create scoring chances while being more effective in the final third.
Another issue for Mexico so far in 2013 has been the failure of seeing tactical options when most needed. De La Torre mostly favors making substitutions that are like for like. This means that the player coming in has the same characteristics or will be asked to carry out the same function as the player he is replacing, but that hasn’t worked or been effective. For the game, De La Torre must be able to show that the team can be adapt by playing a 4-4-1-1 or a 4-3-2-1 depending on the attacking players on the field.
The advantage Mexico have had is that the coaching staff has had time to practice so tactical options should be widely available. Therefore, it is not out of line to expect to see a Raul Jimenez or Aldo De Nigris to come on for a Javier Aquino or Angel Reyna or the reverse. Up to this year, Mexico under De La Torre has shown an ability to tweak formations and make the right substitution depending on the score line and flow of play during a game.
Aside from winning, something that Mexico has also failed to do so far in 2013, the team must also be able to improve its play where it has been most deficient. The advantage and benefit that Mexico and De La Torre have had is time to work with the majority of the squad to fine tune the two questions it must answer. Beginning tonight against Nigeria, it must go out and answer them before a busy summer kicks off.