Mexico’s focus in non-FIFA friendly? It’s all about style

first_imgIn a world in which soccer matches are desperately seeking to have significant meaning, and when everyone is trying to convince you that this one is bigger than the last one, Wednesday’s friendly between Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago almost comfortably takes a clear position in the hierarchy.It will be the marquee match of the night in Mexico, positioned as the second half of a double-header between Toluca and Veracruz in a Copa MX tilt.Yet, it’s a game – on a non-FIFA date, against a regional rival – few are expecting to produce a huge buzz. Trinidad and Tobago’s squad wasn’t unveiled until Tuesday afternoon, while Mexico’s has just five players with El Tri caps on its squad. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career Mexico manager Tata Martino has made no bones about the fact that this game is set up essentially so he can see some of the young players he’s called into mini-camps in more competitive action before he begins the Concacaf Nations League campaign. Even then, though, while Wednesday’s match may be seen as an audition for these young players ahead of Mexico’s debut in the Nations League, Martino has his mind mostly made up about that team.The manager said Tuesday he wants “to know a little more about these guys, who have a really heavy year ahead of them with the Pre-Olympic tournament and the Olympics. But that doesn’t mean that having a good or bad game (Wednesday) will determine if they’re in for the FIFA dates.”Instead of individual auditions, Martino’s goal seems to be more collective. A blowout loss to Argentina in a friendly last month may only have reinforced the idea in Martino’s head that his team may not be 100 per cent ready to take the next step when it matters in 2022 in Qatar. He needs generational change. Martino said Tuesday he intends to bring center backs Carlos Salcedo and Nestor Araujo back in despite a rough outing against Argentina. It makes sense, not only because those players are better than they showed on the field of the Alamodome, but also because at 28 and 26 they should be in their prime in two years when the World Cup rolls around.Yet Martino wouldn’t mind at all if young players emerge who push those veterans, and not only at center back. Should a young forward burst up the ranks and render Raul Jimenez and Chicharito as spare parts, it would be a good problem to have. Even if none of the players on this squad are anywhere near that point, Martino wants to have them in camp for a reason.Quite simply, it’s all about style.”I’m thinking much more in the future. Getting to know the guys, to know how they’re working, so they can understand the idea of play,” Martino said. “We have the expectation that they see a national team and might know how it wants to play. A lot of them will be in the next FIFA dates, and it’s really important that they come into the senior national team with an understanding of the style of play.”The tactics Martino deploys are not dense, and with his previous international experience he’s avoided the mistakes his predecessor made in trying to get his team to learn too much, too quickly. With that in mind, Martino has pressured both the federation and Liga MX clubs to give him time with the players to get them on the same page. He wants them to have the same ideas he has about the transition game, to see when they need to take risks and when to play more conservatively. He wants these players not only to get the system at their clubs but to understand exactly how they’re being asked to play when they come into the national team setup.The team Martino puts on the field Wednesday will be familiar to few Mexico fans, but if everything goes to plan the players will lock onto the concepts he wants to teach, play the style he wants the team to play and, sooner rather than later, become household names as productive players on the senior national team.last_img

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