Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez was on target for Mexico against Chile in El Tri's final warm-up.
Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez was on target for Mexico against Chile in El Tri's final warm-up.

Copa America Centenario preview: Chicharito to spearhead Mexico's push

Two-time runners-up Mexico will look to get back to winning ways at the Copa America Centenario when they kick off their campaign against Uruguay at Phoenix Stadium on 5 June.

Knocked out in the group stages of last two editions of the tournament, Mexico are now winless in a national record six games in the Americas' flagship competition. Mexico are, however, undefeated in 19 games since their 2-1 group stage loss to Ecuador in Chile last June, though a CONCACAF Gold Cup win in July did not spare coach Miguel Herrera from losing his job after off-field issues.

Juan Carlos Osorio succeeded him last October, and far from upsetting the apple cart, the Colombian has now overseen a run of seven straight wins, including victory over defending Copa champions Chile in San Diego on Thursday. Record 15-time champions Uruguay are likely to be El Tri's toughest test in Group C, with Jamaica and Venezuela 46th and 77th respectively in the most recent FIFA World Ranking.

"A happy birthday is a birthday with goals!"

Bundesliga star in focus

Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is the primary goal-threat for club and country. The diminutive centre-forward scored 26 goals in all competitions in his maiden campaign with Bayer 04 Leverkusen as Die Werkself qualified for next season's UEFA Champions League group stage.

The 28-year-old missed Mexico's Gold Cup triumph last year, as well as his country's Olympic Gold medal at London 2012, but in the form of his life and keen to add more silverware to a glittering trophy cabinet that includes trophies won with CD Guadalajara, Manchester United FC and Real Madrid CF, the odds are justifiably short on Hernandez becoming his nation's all-time top scorer before the tournament is out. Birthday-boy Chicharito came off the bench to net the winner against Chile on Thursday, and is now only three goals from overtaking Jared Borgetti's national record goal haul of 46.

"This one only celebrates his birthday with goals! Happy birthday, brother, all the best always!"

Tournament aim

Mexico have finished as runners-up twice and in third three times since 1993, and with a squad that boasts players from Europe's top leagues as well as an ever-improving domestic competition, they will be confident of getting out of their group for the first time since 2007. The draw beyond that has not been kind, though, with Argentina or Chile their likely quarter-final opponents. A win against either and Mexico will certainly feel they can go all the way.

What they're saying

Chicharito (Bayer 04 Leverkusen striker): "Hopefully we can have a very good tournament because, after the USA, we're going to be the local team. Whenever we go to the USA we always feel like we are playing in Mexico City, Guadalajara or Monterrey: the stadiums are full and probably 80 or 90 percent of the people there are Mexicans. That's not going to win you every game, but it's something that other teams cannot feel. It gives you extra motivation. We have a very good opportunity to make history."

Juan Carlos Osorio (Mexico coach): "I hope the dream of the Mexican people is the same as ours and that it can take us very far."


5 June 2016 (kick-off 22:00 ET/02:00 GMT): vs Uruguay

10 June 2016 (kick-off 01:00 ET/05:00 GMT): vs Jamaica

13 June 2016 (kick-off 23:00 ET/03:00 GMT): vs Venezuela

Possible line-up

Talavera - Moreno, Marquez (c), Layun - Duenas, Molina, Herrera, Guardado - Damm, Chicharito, Corona

Coach: Juan Carlos Osorio