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Mexico: Can El Tri Finish WCQ Undefeated?

SAN LUIS POTOSI, MEXICO - OCTOBER 06: Hector Herrera of Mexico celebrates with teammates after scoring the third goal of his team during the match between Mexico and Trinidad & Tobago as part of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifiers at Alfonso Lastras Stadium on October 6, 2017 in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. (Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Mexico is heading down to Honduras for the very last match of the Hex. It used to be a place where no one wanted to play, but after a 2-0 victory in 2015, Mexico now knows the old ghosts of qualification on the road don’t need to be as impactful as they used to be. Juan Carlos Osorio and El Tri have made it to 21 points (6 wins, 3 draws) and they are on the verge of making history with a victory on Tuesday in Honduras.

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Honduras, on the other hand, have lost their former ways in qualification as they sit in 5th with 10 points. Although they are tied with Panama, their lack in goal differential is what keeps them out of the playoff spot. Interestingly, both Honduras and Panama will have their most difficult matches when it’s all on the line, as Honduras has to deal with the best in qualification, and Panama has to face Costa Rica.

What used to be an advantage for Honduras is now looking like the worst possible scenario. Mexico has cruised through qualification and they know they can get a win in Honduras. If Honduras really wants to push it for the 4th spot, they have to play a picture-perfect game, while JCO and co. sleeps on the match.

However, I see Mexico being too strong for Honduras. They won in the Azteca 3-0 against Honduras, then defeated them in the Gold Cup with their secondary roster. La H has not been able to keep up with the team they used to terrorize. This time four years ago, Honduras went into the Azteca and walked away with three points, something you’d never see happen in this Hex.

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Predicted XI

  • Ochoa
  • Araujo, Álvarez, Reyes
  • Herrera, Gutiérrez, Guardado (C), Layún
  • Vela, Raúl, Lozano

I can see JCO sending a mix of new and familiar for this match. I think he may give Vela a chance to start after what was a very poor outing against Trinidad & Tobago. With Héctor Moreno back in Italy, the back three may look like this, as the midfield will have one new face in Gutiérrez. The last change will be Ochoa for José de Jesús Corona, who started in the previous game.

Score prediction? I just think Mexico is a little too talented for Honduras, unfortunately for them. Mexico goes back to Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano and walks out with a 2-0 victory, finishing qualification undefeated and leaving Honduras out of the playoff spot.

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