Mexico have announced their squad ahead of the forthcoming UFWC title match against Brazil. It’s a busy summer for Mexico, who will compete as guests in CONMEBOL’s Copa America in June, then in the CONCACAF Gold Cup in July. Ahead of that, on 7 June, they play reigning unofficial football world champions Brazil. It’s a chance for Mexico to rid themselves of their status as the UFWC’s biggest underachievers, but a deliberately depleted squad is unlikely to make it easy.

Coach Miguel Herrera has openly stated his intention to prioritise the Gold Cup over the Copa America, and as such there are several high profile omissions from his Copa squad, most notably the country’s second all-time top-scorer Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, erstwhile national team captain Andres Guardado, and World Cup starring goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa. Hector Moreno, Hector Herrera and Carlos Vela are also missing. There are only four Europe-based players in the squad, which is mostly made up of domestic league players.

Mexico are the UFWC’s biggest underachievers, with the worst win ratio of any nation, having won just one out of 13 title matches. That win came against Czechoslovakia back in 1962. Mexico promptly lost the title in the biggest upset in UFWC history (and arguably in wider football history) – a 2-1 defeat to the tiny Dutch Antilles islands. Mexico are ranked joint-last out of 48 nations in the all-time UFWC rankings.

With a population of more than 122 million – bigger than all of the UFWC’s top-ranked teams except for Brazil and Russia – Mexico have regularly punched below their weight in world football. Although football can be considered the most popular sport in Mexico, it faces strong competition from baseball and the national sport of charreada rodeo. Mexico has hosted the World Cup twice, but never quite threatened to win it. They have consistently qualified from the group stage, but have never got past the quarter finals. In 2014, they lost 2-1 to the Netherlands in the round of 16. (They had previously held Brazil to a 0-0 draw during the group stage.)

As far as honours go, Mexico have won the CONCACAF Gold Cup nine times but, with respect to the other nations in that region, it’s not the most competitive international tournament in the world. More recently, Mexico’s under-23 team won the football tournament at the 2012 Olympics, which could bode well for them – particularly as they defeated Brazil 2-1 in the final. An over-age player, Oribe Peralta, scored both of Mexico’s goals in the Olympic final, but the 31-year-old is another who won’t be at the Copa America. (Neither will Brazil’s Olympic final scorer – the much-maligned Hulk.)

In the absence of Guardado, veteran defender Rafa Marquez of Hellas Verona is likely to captain the side. He’s one of only a handful of experienced players in the Mexico squad, alongside keeper Jesus Corona and midfielders Javier Aquino and Marco Fabián. Raúl Jiménez of Atletico Madrid is the striker to watch in the absence of Chicharito. It will be interesting to see how the Copa America squad, aware they are unlikely to play at the Gold Cup, respond to being named in what is effectively a second string. (It will also interesting to see how football’s governing bodies react to Mexico deliberately fielding a ‘B’ team in FIFA ‘A’ matches.)

Bookmakers don’t quite seem to know what to make of Mexico’s chances at the Copa America, with available odds on them winning the tournament ranging from 10/1 to 25/1. A bet on them winning their group might be more realistic, and taking advantage of available free bet offers should sweeten that prospect. Looking specifically at the Brazil versus Mexico UFWC match, at the time of writing Brazil are, expectedly, favourites at 1/3, with Mexico at 6/1 to win. A draw at 3/1 could be a better bet.

Observers will have an opportunity to assess Mexico’s short-handed squad ahead of the Brazil match. Mexico play Peru at the Estadio Nacional in a non-UFWC match on 3 June before playing Brazil four days later. For a look at the Brazil squad, see our previous article – Dunga’s Brazil squad set for Copa challenge.

Either one of Brazil or Mexico could take the UFWC title into the Copa America tournament, depending on who wins on 7 June, although Brazil do play another warm-up match against Honduras on 10 June. If Brazil avoid defeat in both matches, they will remain UFWC champions going into the tournament. If Mexico beat Brazil, they will take the title into the Copa. But if Brazil avoid defeat against Mexico then lose to Honduras, Honduras will be the unofficial football world champions, and Honduras aren’t participating in the Copa America. Of course, Honduras are participating in the Gold Cup… but, as always with the UFWC, it’s best to take things one match at a time.

So the match we’re focussing on is Brazil versus Mexico, UFWC champions versus challengers, at the Allianz Parque in São Paulo on 7 June. We’ll have full coverage right here on the UFWC website. You can also keep up to date with all things UFWC by following us on on Twitter or Facebook.

Mexico squad: Goalkeepers: Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Meliton Hernandez (Veracruz); Defenders: Carlos Salcedo (Chivas), Adrian Aldrete (Santos Laguna), George Corral (Queretaro), Miguel Herrera (Pachuca), Rafa Marquez (Hellas Verona), Jerry Flores (Cruz Azul), Hugo Ayala (Tigres), Efrain Velarde (Monterrey), Julio Dominguez (Cruz Azul); Midfielders: Mario Osuna (Queretaro), Luis Montes (Leon), Marco Fabian (Chivas), Javier Aquino (Rayo Vallecano), Javier Guemez (Tijuana), Juan Carlos Medina (Atlas), Jesus Corona (FC Twente); Forwards: Eduardo Herrera (Pumas), Raul Jimenez (Atletico Madrid), Matias Vuoso (Chiapas), Enrique Esqueda (Tigres)

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.