Mexico welcome Costa Rica to the Estadio Universitario for an international friendly as both teams look to get back to winning ways.
Estadio Universitario, San Luis, Mexico
Key Stat: Costa Rica have only won one of their last 18 matches against Mexico.
Expert Verdict: Both Mexico and Costa Rica have been in poor form since the World Cup, though Los Ticos' issues extend before that too. Mexico have lost their last four, but Costa Rica have lost ten of their last 13. That, combined with Mexico's traditional dominance in this fixture and their home advantage, makes Mexico clear favourites.
Mexico have turned to youth again for the friendly against Costa Rica, with a number of experienced players missing from the squad selected for last month’s friendlies with Uruguay and USA. Guillermo Ochoa, Hugo Ayala, Oswaldo Alanis, Jose Abella, injured Carlos Salcedo, Jonathan dos Santos, Elias Hernandez, Diego Lainez, Orbelin Pineda, Rodolfo Pizarro and Alan Pulido all miss out. Andres Guardado, Giovani dos Santos and Javier Hernandez – with 358 international caps between them – have all not featured since the World Cup, and nor have Hector Moreno, Miguel Layun, Hector Herrera or Carlos Vela. There are three uncapped players in the squad – goalkeepers Raul Gudino and Gibran Lajud and defender Josecarlos van Rankin – and only seven of the 26 players selected are based outside Mexico – one of whom is the returning Nestor Araujo.
Raul Jimenez – The most-capped player in the squad, the Wolves striker has scored one and assisted three goals in his club’s last four Premier League games.
Hirving Lozano – Another of the Europe-based contingent to be retained is Mexico’s match winner against Germany in the World Cup.
Victor Guzman – The top-assisting Mexican in the Liga MX so far this season with five so far for Pachuca.
Mexico have not won since following their opening win against Germany with a defeat of South Korea during the World Cup group stage. They lost their final group game 3-0 against Sweden, meaning they had to face Brazil in the second round – who beat them 2-0. They played two friendlies in the USA last month, losing the first 4-1 to Uruguay, despite Raul Jimenez having equalised from the penalty spot on 25 minutes, but lost most recently to the USA, 1-0 in Nashville.
Defenders:Edson Alvarez, Nestor Araujo, Diego Reyes, Jesus Gallardo
Midfielders:Marco Fabian, Erick Gutierrez, Victor Guzman
Forwards:Hirving Lozano, Raul Jimenez, Jesus Manuel Corona
Uncapped duo Jaylon Hadden of Saprissa and Alajuelense’s Barlon Sequeira could make their debuts in midfield. Celso Borges will not feature, having pulled out of the squad injured, while the players not selected from the squad that faced Japan include Rodney Wallace. Marco Urena has not featured since the World Cup, and nor have experienced midfielders Christian Bolanos, Randall Azofeifa and Yeltsin Tejeda. Joel Campbell returns up front, however, Keylor Navas is back to reclaim his place in goal and captain Bryan Ruiz is also back in the squad.
Keylor Navas – The Real Madrid stopper has been ousted by Thibaut Courtois at club level, so this is a big chance to remind everyone of his worth.
Joel Campbell – The Frosinone forward is back in the squad and looking to add to his 15 international goals and refind his goalscoring touch.
Bryan Ruiz – The hugely experienced attacking midfielder will reclaim the captain’s armband as he looks to add to his 112 caps and 24 international goals.
Costa Rica have lost ten of their last 13 matches and have won just two in 15. Those wins both came ahead of the World Cup. In Russia, they lost to Serbia and Brazil in the group stages but claimed a late consolation by drawing with Switzerland courtesy of Yann Sommer’s unfortunate stoppage-time own goal. Since then, they travelled to Asia in September and lost 2-0 to South Korea and 3-0 to Japan in their two matches.
Defenders:Cristian Gamboa, Oscar Duarte, Kendall Waston, Bryan Oviedo
Defensive Midfielders:David Guzman, Allan Cruz
Attacking Midfielders:Joel Campbell, Johan Venegas, Bryan Ruiz
Since the turn of the century, Mexico and Costa Rica have faced each 19 times. Costa Rica won the first meeting, on their way to qualifying for the 2002 World Cup, but have only won one of the next 18 – including an 11-match losing streak between 2003 and 2012. Their only other win came during qualification for the 2014 World Cup with two draws and two Mexico wins since then. Their most recent matches – again, World Cup qualifiers – saw Mexico win 2-0 in March 2017, thanks to Javier Hernandez and Nestor Araujo’s goals, before Marco Urena’s late equaliser sealed a draw in the return fixture after Cristian Gamboa had earlier scored an own goal. In total, Mexico have won 29 of their 53 previous matches against Costa Rica, with Los Ticos winning just seven.
Mexico may have turned to a young, inexperienced squad but they still have a clutch of star names in there, including in-form Raul Jimenez up front.
With Hirving Lozano behind him and Nestor Araujo back in defence, there is enough experience and quality there to suggest Mexico can end their four-match losing streak.
As far as winless streaks go, that is nothing compared to Costa Rica’s dismal run of form, which has brought ten defeats in their last 13 games. They have won just two of their last 15 and look unlikely to end that against Mexico.
Add to that, Mexico have a hugely dominant record in this fixture – their fans will demand nothing but a win on home soil to restore some morale after a difficult few matches.
Costa Rica have recalled some experienced players, including Bryan Ruiz and Keylor Navas, but they have struggled for the last 12 months now and appear unsure of their best system as they rebuild.
Joel Campbell is back but is yet to recapture his goalscoring touch, while Navas has been restricted to just a handful of appearances since Thibaut Courtois’ arrival at Real Madrid.
Mexico have a big home-based contingent in their squad, with several notable foreign-based stars not selected, but there is still plenty of quality.
With home advantage too, and Costa Rica struggling to get out of their current rut, the hosts are favourites for good reason.
Mexico are odds-on favourites to beat Costa Rica, with Bet365 offering 8/11 on the hosts returning to winning ways.
Costa Rica failed to even score in their two games against Japan and South Korea, and a Mexico win to nil is 13/8 with Bet365.
Mexico too are in poor form, however, and they will no doubt take a win no matter how it comes. Bet365 are offering 13/20 in there being under 2.5 goals.
Raul Jimenez will lead the line for Mexico and has been in good form for Wolves this season. He is a best price of 7/4 to score at any time.
Mexico are odds-on favourites to beat Costa Rica, reflecting the visitors’ poor form and Los Ticos dreadful record in this fixture.