Our football writer previews the 2018 CONCACAF World Cup qualifier between USA and Mexico.
La Guerra Fria. That is what the Mexican media dubbed this game when it was first played in Columbus in 2001. The Cold War. This is a fairly fitting epithet given the level of animosity that exists between these two sides.
This will be the fifth installment of this qualifier at this stadium, and remarkably the US have won every game 2-0. Jurgen Klinsmann will be hoping to continue this trend while Juan Carlos Osorio will be looking to mastermind a revolutionary performance from his side.
2018 World Cup qualifier | Saturday 12 November | MAPFRE Stadium | 02:45
To Win (90 Mins)
USA 33/20 | Draw 43/20 | Mexico 33/20
The States came through a fairly routine first CONCACAF group and know the importance of this fixture in setting the tone for proceedings. Klinsmann will be without influential midfielder Clint Dempsey as the midfielder wrestles with heart issues.
Veteran goalkeeper Tim Howard will likely play, despite Brad Guzan’s best efforts. Howard may not have the reflexes of Guzan, but he has a better grasp on match situations, which will be important considering the possibility of Javier Hernandez and company running through.
Their formation will likely resemble your typical 4-3-3, with wunderkind Christian Pulisic and Bobby Wood flanking the physical presence that is Jozy Altidore. Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones are going to have to be disciplined in the heart of midfield, aiming to restrict the late midfield runs of Andres Guardado and Jonathan Dos Santos.
I look at the likes of DeAndre Yedlin and Fabian Johnson in defence and really wonder if this may be Mexico’s best opportunity to break their hoodoo at this ground.
Mexico were more emphatic in their group qualification in arguably a tougher group that featured Honduras. Osorio has a wealth of talent in this side and will likely employ an experimental 3-3-3-1 formation.
Chicarito will lead the line while Peralta, Fabian and Giovani Dos Santos provide the width and attacking threat behind him. Former Spurs man Dos Santos has been in excellent form for LA Galaxy while Guardado will look to monopolize possession in the middle of the park.
Guardado and Rafael Marquez will likely form the continuity between defence and attack, as both are combative but also comfortable in possession. This is an area where I believe Mexico have a huge edge. Their midfield looks more dynamic and changeable.
The States look like a side in desperate need of a makeover in certain areas. Does Bradley really represent the best that the entire United States has in the middle of the park? Chicarito and Peralta should be relishing the chance to get amongst this side.
Verdict: Mexico (33/20)
History is going to be made as I back a Mexico victory. This United States side is diminished without Dempsey and just has a samey look to it now. The Mexican side are well drilled and have more options. They have Carlos Vela on the bench should Chicarito misfire. I’m definitely opting for Mexico by the odd goal.
Written by Damien Kayat @Hollywoodbets