Copa America 2015 Predictions, Analysis: Why Mexico Has Chance at Deep Run
Mexico heads to the Copa America as a guest with hopes of finally pulling off its first ever victory in the tournament. With the Gold Cup also taking place this summer, many expected the team to send a B-squad to compete, but to the surprise of many, the squad heading to Chile is actually filled with veterans capable of making a deep run.
Veterans such as Jesus Corona, Marco Fabian, Javier Aquino, Rafa Marquez, Raul Jimenez and Carlos Salcedo will be among those leading the charge in Chile. But will they be enough to get El Tri over the hump?
Mexico has yet to claim the Copa America as its own. The reason is simple. Mexico usually arrives as a guest and is not one to field a top squad in the tournament.
Despite this, the team has actually made the finals on two occasions and finished third in the tournament three times. In 1993 Mexico faced Argentina in the final but lost 2-1. In 2001 it was a 1-0 loss in Colombia against the hosts that cost Mexico any dreams of lifting the CONMEBOL trophy.
The third place finishes for Mexico have come in 1997, 1999 and the 2007 edition that witnessed a 3-1 win over Uruguay.
The above veterans will certainly be called on to produce, but the spotlight will likely reside on Jimenez. The 24-year-old was expected to be a solid striker for Atletico Madrid in 2014-15 after a 19-goal campaign in Mexico during the 2013-14 season.
However, he never really found his game with los Colchoneros and only managed one goal in 20 appearances for Diego Simeone’s team. He has six goals in 27 appearances for Mexico and many expect him to carry the load offensively. Unsurprisingly, he leads all the forwards on this current roster in goals for his nation; the only other player on the entire roster with more goals is Marquez.
Speaking of whom, the captain will look to redeem himself after a rather unfortunate World Cup last summer. Everyone remembers that it was he who gifted Arjen Robben the penalty that would be Mexico’s undoing in the Round of 16.
Despite that, he is the older player on the roster and will be the one capable of leading his team on and off the pitch when things get dicey and adversity hits. Look for him to make his presence felt.
Why Mexico can win
It’s a long shot. Especially with Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Colombia as the runaway favorites.
That said, Mexico got a relatively “easy” group, with Chile offering the greatest challenge and Ecuador a potential dark horse. Miguel Herrera is an intelligent man who knows how to win and he also knows that his team will need to play a strong defensive game to get through the tournament in Chile. His team has often excelled in this department and there is no reason to expect any less.
Some luck and timely play from this roster overall will go a long way. One must also not overlook Corona in goal as he looks to reclaim the No. 1 job for his own. He is a goalie capable of stealing a game and highly motivated to steal more than that at this point.
Prediction – Mexico gets out of the group in second place but gets knocked out in the quarterfinals.