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K League Coach World Cup Scout Report: Mexico

World Cup Scout Report: Mexico
Korea began the World Cup with a disappointing defeat to Sweden meaning that Shin Tae-yong's Taeguk Warriors have it all to do when his team face Mexico this Saturday. The Mexicans eased past Germany during their Group F opener and K League United's in-house coach assessed what Korea will be up against and what can be done to pick up three points.
(Image via Goal/Dirk Waem)
Mexico qualified with relative ease and will go into the tournament full of self-belief. They have successfully made it into the knockout stages for the last six tournaments and will see themselves as favourites for second place in Group F this summer. Mexico had the best defensive record in their qualifying group and shared goals around the team. Their opening game win against Germany will have many Korea fans worried about their team's chances.

Tactical Approach

Manager Juan Carlos Osorio is notorious for changing shapes and lineups, making Mexico probably the hardest starting lineup and shape to predict. The basis of the shape is a 4-3-3 but that has morphed into 3-1-3-3 and even a 4-2-3-1 during qualifying. They will look to play on the front foot and dictate the tempo. They have an array of options up front and will look to get the ball forward to them as soon as possible.

The tempo the Mexico's play will be set by captain Andres Guardado. The Real Betis midfielder tends to sit in front of the defensive line and look to find passes forward to the front three. When recovering the ball Mexico will look to find Guardado quickly to set up their attacking play.

Mexico showed that they can be deadly on the counter-attack, by exploiting any space that was left by Germany in their opening fixture. Though Mexico will play much more on the front foot against Korea, Shin Tae-yong will need to set his team up well in order to make the most of the opportunities the Red Devils will when going forward.

Predicted Lineup


Threats

Mexico have a very strong front line with Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela, Jesús Manuel Corona, Hirving "Chucky" Lozano, Oribe Peralta and, Raúl Jiménez to pick from. This could be a breakout tournament for Lozano who has been in fantastic form for PSV in the Netherlands and scored the goal to beat Germany. They also have the option to call upon the creativity of Giovani dos Santos, though most likely from the bench. Korea will have to either defend in numbers or keep Mexico on the back foot in their own half.

The Mexico squad is made up of very experienced international players. When it comes to controlling games, dictating tempo and managing the clock, Mexico will be well prepared. Korea have had issues recently changing the tempo of games or imposing themselves on opponents, something that may be an issue when these two face off.

Opportunities

Osorio tinkering with the team and game to game alternations of both the system and lineup may offer Korea an opportunity. Not only is it hard for analysts and reporters to predict the Mexico team, it may be hard for the players themselves. There may be an element of unfamiliarity and uncertainty within the team. Add to that the enormous amount of pressure that the Mexican public place on the team, Korea may be able to punish any hesitancy within the Mexican team.

As shown by Denmark in a pre-tournament friendly, the back three of Mexico can be exposed down the flank. If Korea can create one-on -one opportunities for Son Heung-min, Lee Seung-woo or Hwang Hee-chan they may be able to get something from the game. Even as a back four, defending in the wide areas may be an issue for Mexico, with Sevilla's Miguel Layún the only recognised fullback of quality, with Edson Álvarez more accustomed to playing centre back rather than right back.

Korea may be able to keep the Mexican attack under wraps if they can press play out into wide areas. For all the skilful technical options Mexico have up front, they lack a powerful, physical presence and will try and play in tight areas centrally. If Korea can close these areas off and force Mexico to play high crosses into the box they may be able to keep a clean sheet.

Finally, one option that Shin Tae-yong may consider is assigning one of the attackers to almost man mark Guardado. If Korea are able to disrupt his rhythm it will have a huge knock-on effect for Mexico's overall performance an ability to build play.

Tactical Analysis of Sweden 1-0 Korea: here

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