World Cup team preview: Mexico

Mexico have played in all but five World Cup finals and they will be aiming to reach the round of 16 for the seventh time in a row.

El Tri went unbeaten in their group four years ago to finish second behind host nation Brazil, but they squandered the lead against the Netherlands to lose 2-1 in the first knockout round.

Juan Carlos Osorio’s side will battle it out with Germany, Sweden and South Korea in Group F, and their opener against the defending champions on June 17 could be an early indication of who takes top spot.

The North Americans comfortably topped their group in qualifying after suffering just one defeat, which came in the final round as they went down 3-2 to Honduras.

No less than 11 players got on the scoresheet during the qualifiers, where Hirving Lozano led the charge with three goals. Much will be expected of the PSV winger, who scored 17 times in the Eredivisie this past season to help his club to the domestic title.

Javier Hernandez is his country’s all-time leading scorer with 49 goals and the striker will be their focal point in attack. He didn’t enjoy the best of seasons at West Ham, however, after finding the back of the net just eight times in 28 Premier League outings, many of which came off the bench.

Osorio has two vastly experienced players in his squad, in Rafael Marquez and Andres Guardado, both having amassed 145 caps for their country. Marquez is going to his fifth World Cup, but the 39-year-old been shifted to a holding midfield role as he no longer has the legs to play in defence.

Meanwhile, Guardado featured at the last three editions and has taken over the armband from Marquez, who skippered the team in the previous four.

The Mexicans enjoyed a decent build-up to Russia 2018, losing just two of their eight friendlies, against Croatia (1-0) and Denmark (2-0). They beat Poland (1-0) and Iceland (3-0), while holding Belgium to a 3-3 draw – all teams that are also featuring at the global showpiece.

Full squad:

Goalkeepers: Jose Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege).

Defenders: Hugo Ayala (UANL), Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Diego Reyes (Porto), Miguel Layun (Sevilla), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad), Edson Alvarez (America).

Midfielders: Rafael Marquez (Atlas), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Hector Herrera (Porto), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Javier Aquino (UANL), Jesus Gallardo (Monterrey).

Forwards: Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles FC), Javier Hernandez (West Ham), Jesus Corona (Porto), Oribe Peralta (America), Hirving Lozano (PSV).