Mexico enter Friday night's crucial World Cup qualifier against the United States in first place and well on their way to Qatar next year. But Friday doesn't just present an opportunity to boost their chances of qualification -- it also presents them with what they really want, which is a chance at revenge. After losing two finals over the summer to the U.S., Mexico now make the trip to Cincinnati hoping to deliver another big blow to the USA's qualifying hopes, just like they did last cycle.
Here's what to know about this Mexico team ahead of kickoff:
Head coach Gerardo Martino has opted for a 4-3-3 lately, similar to what Gregg Berhalter uses, though Mexico like to get a bit wider in the midfield. In the Concacaf Nations League final in June, Martino actually switched to that 4-3-3 from the 3-4-3 he had previously deployed in order to have extra cover defensively on the wings. But lately that 4-3-3 has been the formation of choice, and that isn't expected to change entering this clash. The importance of four at the back will be critical with the speed and technical quality the U.S. has on the wings, even with Gio Reyna missing out through injury and Christian Pulisic starting from the bench.
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Style of play
Mexico want to have the ball. Their belief is that having the ball, as long as they pass sharply, will give them more opportunities to score, and obviously, keep the ball away from the opponent. Mexico have won that battle of possession in 12 of their last 13 games, and the match where they didn't was the 1-0 win over Costa Rica in September where they had 49 percent.
Usually the focus is on attacking, pushing with fullbacks getting up the field, often with the midfield dropping to cover them when necessary. Though, on the road against their biggest rivals in Concacaf, don't be shocked if those fullbacks are on a shorter leash. Mexico won't ever concede possession, but they might use it more conservatively, primarily as a way to keep the U.S. from attacking rather than as a way to force the issue themselves.
Projected Mexico starting XI
Keeper: Guillermo Ochoa
Defense: Jesus Gallardo; Johan Vasquez, Julio Dominguez, Luis Rodriguez
Midfield: Edson Alvarez, Hector Herrera, Luis Romo
Forward: Hirving Lozano, Raul Jimenez, Jesus Corona.