Tuesday’s international friendly action sees Mexico meeting Wales at the Rose Bowl in California. With the backing of most of the crowd, Mexico will be looking to build momentum ahead of the World Cup by securing victory against their severely under-strength opponents.
As is the norm, Juan Osorio’s troops breezed through qualification for Russia 2018 and all focus in now on preparing to try and end their World Cup curse, having went out at the round of 16 stage in the last 6 editions of the competition.
Mexico have gave some reasons for encouragement since qualification action ended, recording victories over Poland, Bosnia and Iceland, as well as drawing 3-3 away in Belgium, with young star Hirving Lozano scoring twice in the latter. However, having lost 1-0 to Croatia last time out, returning to winning ways in this clash is of paramount importance, something El Tri can be confident in doing having won 5 of their last 6 friendlies with a majority Mexican crowd, as well as 6 of their last 7 matches as hosts.
For Wales the match represents another chance for new boss Ryan Giggs to take a look at what players he has to pick from. Giggs has a big job on his hands to replace the hugely successful Chris Coleman, but got off to an encouraging start in his first couple of games in the dugout, beating China 5-0 before losing 1-0 to a strong Uruguayan team in March’s China Cup action.
Nonetheless, after a long trip and without several key figures, Giggs faces a big ask as regards securing a result in this friendly. The Dragons are without talisman Gareth Bale due to his involvement in the Champions League final and with James Chester, Neil Taylor and Joe Allen also missing, the squad is missing a plethora of experience.
Ultimately, at full.strength, Wales could certainly challenge Mexico but the team they have available looks to have them in store for a difficult evening. Man for man, Mexico are the stronger outfit in most areas of the pitch and that should be apparent come full time.
Backing Mexico to win looks the way to play, alongside a bet on it being to nil. Wales attacking threat will be severely limited without Bale and against a Mexican team that rarely falters in front of their own fans, it’s hard to envisage a Wales side that’s lost 6 of their last 7 away friendlies causing too many problems. All things considered, a 2-0 Mexican win looks to be on the cards and is a scoreline worth backing in addition to our main tips.
Mexico possible starting XI: Ochoa; Gallardo, Ayala, Alanis, Damm; Molina, Gutiérrez, Aquino; Peralta, Jimenez, Lozano.
Wales possible starting XI: Hennessey; Gunter, Williams, Lockyer, Davies, John; Ledley, Ramsey; Wilson, Vokes, Lawrence.
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This will be just the fourth ever meeting between the nations. The sides had not met since May 1962 prior to Mexico’s 2-0 friendly win back in 2012, in what was Chris Coleman’s first game in charge of Wales.
Veteran centre back Rafael Marquez has not travelled to the US for this friendly due to legal complications. Goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera and defender Miguel Layun are yet to join up with the squad whilst Andres Guardado, Hector Moreno and Diego Reyes also sit out as they continue to gain fitness after respective injuries. Defender Nestor Araujo has been ruled out of the World Cup through injury.
Wales are without a number of key players. Gareth Bale and Ben Woodburn miss out due to their clubs’ involvement in the Champions League final, whilst defenders James Chester and Neil Taylor also aren’t involved due to Aston Villa’s play-off final. Joe Allen is also unavailable due to injury, giving Ryan Giggs plenty to think about.