On Monday night, Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio insinuated that there would be lineup changes against New Zealand.
“We’re thinking of giving opportunities to others to once again put out a very fresh and very competitive team,” said Osorio ahead of Wednesday’s Confederations Cup match. “There are some very good options to refresh the team, but we will take into account the medical examinations to make the decisions.”
After gaining an impressive draw against Portugal on Sunday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the manager follow through with his infamous tinkering — especially when you consider the different challenge and style that the All Whites present.
“We recognize New Zealand are a strong team, with a good aerial game, very physical,” later stated Osorio.
However, there is no reason why Mexico should be losing the second group stage match. On paper, El Tri is far superior to the squad that had little to offer in the 2-0 loss to Russia on Saturday.
While some may point out Mexico’s narrow 2-1 victory over New Zealand last October, it’s important to keep in mind that El Tri’s starting XI from that match only featured four players who are currently a part of the Confederations Cup roster. Of those four, only Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta gained minutes in the draw with Portugal, as second half substitutes.
Were the All Whites fielding a backup squad in that defeat from October? Not exactly. From that starting XI, seven were starters for New Zealand in the recent loss to Russia.
Either way, Mexico must gain a win on Wednesday. If Osorio’s men wish to earn a place in the knockout round of the tournament, three points should do plenty to bring them one step closer.
Key to success for El Tri — Making the correct roster changes
After hearing Osorio’s comments, certain backup names such as Alfredo Talavera and Nestor Araujo appear as likely starters in Wednesday’s match. Although he started in the last game, it’s also fair to include a fringe player name like Raul Jimenez in the mix as well.
To an extent, the manager’s rotations make sense by giving opportunities to backup players. It fosters a sense of competition within the squad and it appears as though most of the team is buying into Osorio’s gameplan.
That said, it’s always risky to make too many alterations. Despite the fact that it’s understandable to make changes in the starting roster, Osorio should be careful to not do anything too drastic.
Mexico player to watch — Hirving Lozano
During the pregame press conference, Lozano was given an unexpected appearance alongside Osorio and teammate Hector Herrera. The decision to incorporate the 21-year-old says plenty about the manager’s trust in the promising winger.
Of course, the elephant in the room regarding Lozano is his recent agreement to a deal with PSV Eindhoven. Following much speculation about a move abroad, the Pachuca player made headlines on Monday after news emerged that he is set to sign a six-year contract.
If there was ever a time for Lozano to prove that he is worth the hype, it’s now. Keep an eye on the youngster who will be eager to show off his talents against a less-than-exciting New Zealand defense.
Predicted Score — Mexico 4-0 New Zealand
Well aware that goal differential will likely come into play at the end of the group stage, El Tri should seek to score as much as possible. Even if Osorio only utilizes backups on Wednesday, Mexico should still be able to easily find the back of the net.
Based off his comments, El Tri fans should expect some changes in the starting XI. I wouldn’t be surprised if Osorio goes with a three-man backline in this match and brings in names like Araujo and Talavera. This is what I’m thinking it might look like. Once again though, who knows what Osorio will do.