The importance of the Olympics for Mexican soccer shouldn´t be underplayed.
It is a tournament that could make the larger football world stand up and take notice of a Latin American country that is usually overshadowed by the southern giants of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.
The Olympics offer a chance for Mexico to edge closer to that elite group of nations that produce crop after crop of young talent and expectations are high that el Tri has a team to realistically compete for a medal.
Talent oozes through each line of the team from goalkeeper to forwards. That isn´t a startling revelation for those who have followed the team, but it is worth reinforcing the point after the two recent friendly losses against Spain and Japan.
Most betting websites have Mexico as sixth favorite to win the gold, but the North American nation has to outdo expectations at some point and the Olympics is an excellent opportunity.
Aside from the medal and pleasing folks back home, the other great motivation for Mexican players is that they will be squarely in European clubs´ shop window at London 2012.
Already Premier League clubs are circling like hawks around the Brazilian squad. There has been murmurings of interest in Mexico´s Olympic players, but nothing concrete so far, something that will undoubtedly change swiftly should Marco Fabian score a couple of screamers, Hector Herrera dominate the Spanish midfield or Diego Reyes mark Neymar out of the game.
The fact remains that Mexican players have never moved to Europe en masse and perhaps aren´t as highly sought after commodities, unlike South American players. For example, only Giovani Dos Santos plies his trade outside of Mexico in el Tri´s squad, whereas ten of the 18 Uruguayans at the Games play in Europe and 11 of the Brazilians.
The Olympics perhaps won´t change that overnight, but a good performance would push Mexico further to the forefront of the minds of European teams.
Likely team versus South Korea
The big news ahead of the first game against South Korea on Thursday is that Giovani Dos Santos may well start on the bench for Mexico, with Miguel Ponce on the left wing.
Jesus Corona is set to start in goal, Diego Reyes and Hiram Mier at center back, Israel Jimenez on the right of the defense and Darvin Chavez on the left.
In the center of midfield, Carlos Salcido will shield the defense alongside workhorse Hector Herrera.
Barring any surprises, a recovered Javier Aquino should play on the right wing, Ponce on the left, Oribe Peralta as the central striker and Marco Fabian in the floating role.
By Tom Marshall (@MexicoWorldCup)
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