With now just nine days until kick off against Bolivia in Chile, Mexico will play its penultimate warm-up match ahead of the Copa America against Peru in Lima on Wednesday. Mexico began a hectic summer, which also includes a trip to the Gold Cup next month, with a 3-0 victory over Guatemala on Saturday. But emphasizing the task for Miguel Herrera in discovering a functional team ahead their first Copa America outing, the coach has made eight changes to his starting lineup in the Peruvian capital.
Herrera will take two almost completely distinct squads to the Copa America and Gold Cup. And, while Herrera disputes it, the “B” squad will be going to Chile as the priority is put on regaining Concacaf superiority and a playoff for a place in the Confederations Cup. His conundrums have been exacerbated by some of his players arriving late to the squad due to club commitments. One of those will appear for the first time this summer on Wednesday, with Rafa Márquez joining up with the team after completing the Serie A season with Hellas Verona and going straight into El Tri’s lineup as captain.
Márquez was a surprise selection to go to the Copa America, having been expected to lead the more experienced squad at the Gold Cup. But Herrera has insisted that Márquez’s presence is evidence that Mexico are aiming to prosper in both competitions.
“We try to balance winning this tournament and the Gold Cup, which brings us to the Confederations Cup,” he said, reports Medio Tiempo.
Alongside the 36-year-old Márquez in defense will be the man who attempted to play his libero role on Saturday, Julio “Cata” Domínguez, along with Atlas’ Juan Carlos Valenzuela. The trio will play in front of Alfredo Tavalera, given a rare chance to stake his claim to start ahead of Jesús Corona. There is a new look in midfield, too. Juan Carlos Medina retains his place, but switches to a more defensive role, while Javier Aquino and Marco Fabián get their opportunity in the more creative positions. Up front, the man who continued his impressive late-blooming international career with two goals against Guatemala, Eduardo Herrera, starts on the bench, leaving Atlético Madrid’s Raul Jiménez to be partnered by Tigres forward Enrique Esqueda. There are likely to be changes again when Mexico takes on Brazil on Sunday for their final warm-up match ahead of the start of the Copa America.
“My squad is pretty good. The boys have plenty of enthusiasm. Mexico always takes the Copa America seriously,” he told Peruvian outlet Depor, according to the Copa America website. “I know enough about Peru. We will face a renewed team. They have important players but also new faces. In addition, they have a great desire to have a good Copa America."
For Peru, of course, the match is also an important part of their preparations for the South American championship. Peru went all the way to claim a surprise third place finish in Argentina four years ago, but struggled in World Cup qualifying, finishing a full 10 points away from a spot in Brazil. Coach Ricardo Gareca only took up the post in February and lost his only match so far, 1-0 to Venezuela in March. For the Copa America, he has selected a squad led by experienced forward trio Paolo Guerrero, Jefferson Farfan and Bayern Munich’s Claudio Pizarro.
Mexico lineup (confirmed)
D: Flores, Valenzuela, Márquez, Domínguez, Velarde
M: Aquino, Medina, Fabián
F: Jiménez, Esqueda
Kickoff time: 9 p.m. EDT
TV channel: ESPN News, Univision Deportes, UniMas