Mexico have often been the bridesmaids when it comes to international competition. Perennial World Cup qualifiers, they have an outstanding record of escaping their group in the finals, then fluffing their lines completely in the last 16, most notably in 1994 and 2002, when further progress looked more than likely.
Their habit of choking under pressure was not exposed though at the Olympics last summer, where Oribe Peralta’s double stunned Brazil in the final at Wembley. It is a huge surprise that Peralta has not been included in the final squad for this tournament, and it means that apart from Javier Hernandez, the quality of the Mexican squad is under review.
However, always putting in a professional job on the left side of midfield is the experienced Andres Guardado.
Guardado is one of those players who has come in under the radar in recent years. He does his job with the minimum of fuss, and does it quietly, almost in the mould of a player such as ex-Republic of Ireland full-back Steve Finnan.
In his Liverpool days, Finnan did what was required, impressed on a consistent basis, but allowed others to take the headlines. He was a strong presence in the early management of Rafael Benitez at Anfield. Guardado does the same for the Mexican national team and did for many seasons as a loyal worker at Deportivo la Coruna.
Last season, he moved to Valencia on a free transfer and recently scored his first goal for the club in the convincing La Liga victory over Rayo Vallecano. He has been a regular in the Mexican line-up since 2005, playing under four different coaches.
He has represented his country in two World Cups, two Gold Cups and the Copa America back in 2007.
It shouldn’t be forgotten that Guardado played a huge role in them actually being in this competition. He scored one of the goals in the Gold Cup final in 2011 against the USA to ensure Mexico remained the kings of football in North America.
It is unlikely that Guardado will set the Confederations Cup on fire, but expect a usual commendable performance in every match from the winger.
With a scoring record that can only be described as supreme at international level, Javier Hernandez will be a striker to watch at the 2013 Confederations Cup. Chicharito, as he is affectionately known to the fans of Manchester United and in some sections of the English media, has a knack for finding the back of the net.
For his club, that is in a less central role of coming off the bench, making his 10-goal return from last season’s championship winning Premier League campaign all the more impressive.
However, he doesn’t have to worry about his place in the Mexican starting XI. In fact, he is probably the first name on the teamsheet of manager Jose Manuel de la Torre. Hernandez has featured regularly for Mexico since 2009, and scored twice on the world stage against France and Argentina in the 2010 World Cup, just weeks after announcing his move to United from Chivas.
He was the top scorer in the 2011 Gold Cup with seven goals, including a hat-trick in the group stage rout of El Salvador. Hernandez has scored 32 goals for Mexico, having just been capped 47 times.
That is a phenomenal strike rate, and with Oribe Peralta not included for the tournament, Mexico will be relying on the firepower of Hernandez if they don’t want their stay in Brazil to be a very short one.
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