Mexico is facing an uphill battle to qualify for the World Cup, as they sit in ninth place after eight games. Even with no Rio Tinto Stadium, and playing on a beachfront field that was essentially designed for American football, Mexico struggled immensely against Honduras last night.

The “will chicharito play in the world cup 2022” is a question that has been on many people’s minds. Mexico faces crucial World Cup qualifiers amid empty Azteca, questions about defense.

Mexico faces crucial World Cup qualifiers amid empty Azteca, questions about defense

Although a participation in the 2022 World Cup for Mexico’s men’s national team remains a foregone conclusion, setbacks in November qualifiers against the United States and Canada have changed a possible cakewalk through CONCACAF’s Octagonal round into a hazardous situation.

The good news is that those losses have now been two months apart. El Tri manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino and his team have had plenty of time to reflect on their mistakes and miscalculations that led to a disappointing conclusion to 2021.

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Instead of separating themselves from the pack in the Octagonal, El Tri found themselves in the thick of a close battle with just two points separating first-place Canada (16 points) and fourth-place Panama (4 points) (14 points). Mexico is now in third place with 14 points, but there are no assurances that if they finish in the top three in the Octagonal, they would get an automatic invitation to Qatar, or even a playoff slot if the teams behind them speed up their pace.

In the remaining two international windows, Martino has no time to spend.

Here are three topics to keep an eye on for Mexico ahead of crucial matches against Jamaica (Jan. 27), Costa Rica (Jan. 30), and Panama (Feb. 2).

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Despite this, Martino’s favorite word to describe Flores is “patience.” The manager has every right to not be too enthusiastic and put him back in straight away, but if Mexico has more problems than answers in the winter qualifications, he may regret not taking a risk on him. More crucially, he may come to regret it if he loses the adolescent who is also qualified to study in Canada and England.

The goalie roster, which includes 34-year-old Rodolfo Cota, 35-year-old Jonathan Orozco, 36-year-old Guillermo Ochoa, and 39-year-old Alfredo Talavera, has Mexico supporters scratching their heads. For World Cup qualifying teams, experience is crucial, yet even the backups at this position are in their mid-30s.

It’s not like there aren’t any youthful options. Carlos Acevedo, a 25-year-old goalkeeper, was undoubtedly one of the standouts in the Chile friendly last month, which featured numerous periphery players and youthful alternatives for El Tri. Acevedo was the most outstanding player for Mexico in the match against Chile, except from LA Galaxy’s Julian Araujo, who is included in the current Mexico call-up.

The Santos Laguna skipper has also been outstanding in Liga MX during the previous several years. Acevedo may not be superior than Ochoa, but he is deserving of a chance over the other seasoned goalkeepers in a three-game international run.

Although Gerardo Martino’s team is loaded with playmakers, the defense remains a weakness. via AP/Jason Franson/The Canadian Press

A priority must be given to resolving the backline.

There’s enough firepower in the attack for Mexico to score some goals, and there’s enough midfield quality to control the game’s tempo, but how about the defense?

When looking for a weak spot in Tata’s system, the backline is the first area that comes to mind. Mexico’s shortcomings in this area were emphasized by the results in late 2021. In their past four games, the squad has conceded nine goals in all competitions. “Our ambition and task is to develop a defense that lives up to how we attack,” Martino said after his most recent appearance, the aforementioned friendly tie with Chile.

With Araujo at right-back and Genk’s Gerardo Arteaga at left-back, there are some options. The latter is back in the mix after being supposedly shut out for months after turning down a call-up from Martino. Johan Vasquez of Genoa and Cesar Montes of Monterrey are both capable central defenders who can assist Mexico defend its own half of the game.

Gerardo Arteaga is said to be back in Gerardo Martino’s good graces. Icon Sportswire/Rich von Biberstein

Unfortunately, there are other questions about other players who will be featured in the forthcoming three-game stretch after those names. Jorge Sanchez, Luis Rodriguez, and Jesus Gallardo have all looked far from their best for club and country at fullback. Nestor Araujo, Hector Moreno, and Julio Cesar Dominguez have failed to form a trusting relationship in the center of the backline.

Mexico’s success will depend on finding the proper combinations and hope for some of these names to rise up.

El Tri is on the verge of earning some much-needed points, but if they falter, they may find themselves in the same situation as in 2013, when they were able to qualify for the 2014 World Cup owing to divine intervention.

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