Bundesliga stars Marco Fabian and Christian Pulisic (l.-r.) go head to head in Mexico City on Monday. - © © imago
Bundesliga stars Marco Fabian and Christian Pulisic (l.-r.) go head to head in Mexico City on Monday. - © © imago

The Bundesliga battles that could decide Mexico vs. USMNT

There is a distinct Bundesliga flavour to next Monday's must-see FIFA 2018 World Cup qualifier between Mexico and the USMNT.

With El Tri sitting six points clear of the USA at the top of the CONCACAF standings, bundesliga.com examines the Bundesliga-blooded, Tex-Mex battles that could decide matters in Mexico City…

Chicharitovs.John Brooks

If there is one man who can fire Mexico a step closer to the 2018 World Cup, it is Bayer Leverkusen striker Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez. The diminutive 28-year-old had a quiet season by his gold standards domestically, but still managed to rattle off 11 goals in 26 Bundesliga appearances. Chicharito also goes into the game with a welcome spring in his step, fresh from supplanting the legendary Jared Borgetti as Mexico's all-time leading goalscorer.

If Hernandez is going to add to his record 47-goal tally, he will have to find a way past new Wolfsburg man John Anthony Brooks. The 24-year-old centre-back forged a reputation for being something of an immovable object at boyhood club Hertha Berlin, whom he helped secure a surprise top-six finish in 2016/17. However, despite boasting an obvious physical edge, Brooks has conceded a goal, assist or both to Mexico's 'Little Pea' in each of their three Bundesliga head-to-heads to date.

Watch: Leverkusen thumped Hertha 6-2 on the final day of the season

Marco FabianvsChristian Pulisic

Bundesliga audiences saw the very best of Marco Fabian in his first full season at Eintracht Frankfurt. The Mexican playmaker's three goals and four assists during the first half of 2016/17 had the Eagles dreaming of a place in the UEFA Champions League, before a back injury stopped him and Frankfurt in their tracks. He reminded fans what they had been missing with a further four goals shortly after his return, but Eintracht's European push had long run out of steam.

Watch: Marco Fabian's Matchday 29 Goal of the Week

Christian Pulisic was no less influential in the Borussia Dortmund midfield, despite making eight fewer Bundesliga starts - 15 in total. The USMNT record-breaker chipped in with three goals and six assists, and won the match-winning penalty in the 2017 DFB Cup final against Fabian's Frankfurt. After getting the Stars and Stripes out of jail with the equalising goal in a recent warm-up match against Venezuela, and rattling off a match-winning brace against Trinidad & Tobago in qualifying, Hershey's most famous son holds the key to bringing CONCACAF pacesetters Mexico back down to size at the Estadio Azteca.

Watch: Christian Pulisic's 2016/17 Bundesliga goals

Andres Guardado vs.Fabian Johnson

Andres Guardado? Yes, that's right, folks. Mexico's left-sided specialist made seven appearances for Leverkusen during the second half of 2014/15. His performances did not prompt Die Werkself to make the 30-year-old's loan deal permanent, but there is no denying his pedigree. The PSV Eindhoven defender has faced some of the biggest names in Europe - including Bayern Munich in the 2016/17 Champions League group stage - and played in three World Cups.

Fabian Johnson is unlikely to have faced such battle-hardened opposition in his 14 years as a professional, but the age factor is exactly what could give the Borussia Mönchengladbach wide man the edge. Munich-born Johnson thrives in a freer, more advanced role, where his pace can stretch even the lithest of full-backs. After stepping off the bench to tee up Pulisic's equaliser against Venezuela, he surely has to start a game that could make or break the USMNT's hopes of qualifying automatically for Russia 2018.

Watch: Fabian Johnson's Goal of the Season contender

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