Predicted Lineup: How Will Mexico Start Against Jamaica in Copa América?

Mexico get their Copa América 2024 campaign underway this Saturday against Jamaica.
Mexico v Brazil - International Friendly
Mexico v Brazil - International Friendly / Tim Warner/GettyImages

Jaime Lozano has a few days to prepare his first starting XI of the Copa América, with the opening game being against the Reggae Boyz of Jamaica.

In preparation for the highly anticipated opening game at Houton's NRG Stadium, TUDN has released the starting XI that they predict will be used by Lozano... so let's break it down.

As we have often seen from Mexico under Lozano, El Trí will likely opt for a 4-3-3 formation, with a holding midfield player behind two more attacking central players.

Goalkeeper - Julio González

Julio Gonzalez
Toluca v Pumas UNAM - Torneo Clausura 2024 Liga MX / Jam Media/GettyImages

González is a 33-year-old veteran who currently plays his trade for Pumas UNAM. The shot-stopper has had an unexpected rise in recent years. In 2019, González was playing for Tiburones Rojos de Veracruz before the club folded due to financial issues. From there, the goalkeeper moved to Spain to play in the third division for Club Deportivo Praviano.

After the pandemic, the goalkeeper made a dream move to Liga MX with Pumas. A former Santos Laguna academy graduate who previously failed to solidify his place in the Mexican top flight now had another chance to make his mark.

Since then, González has needed to fight his way into the starting XI, making just 20 appearances across his first two seasons with the club. After some consistent performances, he became the club's first choice, helping Pumas reach the playoffs for both the Apertura and Clausura in the 2023/24 season.

The goalkeeper position was always a subject of debate ahead of the competition. Legendary Guillermo Ochoa had held the number-one spot for 19 years before being dropped by Lozano ahead of this summer's Copa America. Luis Malagón was expected to take over, but an injury ruled the América goalkeeper out of the competition. As a result, Lozano had to choose between Raúl Rangel and Julio González. It appears the Pumas goalkeeper will start the opening game, as he did in the final friendly against Brazil.

Defence - Gerardo Arteaga (Left Back), Israel Reyes (Right Back), Johan Vásquez, César Montes (Centre Backs)

Cesar Montes, Johan Vasquez, Thomas Mueller
Germany v Mexico - International Friendly / Markus Gilliar - GES Sportfoto/GettyImages

The defence is what we would expect from Lozano as he looks to match experience with quality.

Aged 24 and 25, Arteaga and Reyes bring a blend of youthful energy and tactical acumen, honed through successful stints with their respective clubs. Reyes, notably, has clinched consecutive Liga MX titles with América. Both players are versatile in attack, offering dynamic crossing and impressive passing ranges. Defensively, they have demonstrated resilience and reliability when needed.

Montes and Vásquez will strengthen the backline with their European experience, having excelled for Almería and Genoa, respectively. Montes, standing at an imposing 6'5" (195 cm), reads the game astutely and poses a significant aerial threat at both ends of the pitch. His partner, Vásquez, is a 6'0" (184 cm) ball-playing defender who isn’t afraid to engage in tough tackles. Unlike Montes, Vásquez did not play in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, making this his first major international tournament where he is expected to play a crucial role for El Trí.

The expected backline marks a slight shift from Mexico's final game against Brazil. Previously, Edson Álvarez was moved to defence to partner with Vásquez. However, the West Ham United star is anticipated to return to his defensive midfield role, replacing Luis Romo, meaning that Montes is set to rejoin the starting lineup.

Midfield - Edson Álvarez, Érick Sanchez, Luis Cháves

Luis Chavez, Jesus Gallardo, Edson Alvarez, Orbelin Pineda
Mexico v Jamaica - CONCACAF Nations League / Quality Sport Images/GettyImages

Edson Álvarez is often the first name on the team sheet, recently being named the new captain for El Trí. The West Ham player is an intelligent defensive midfielder who brings calmness and leadership which will be crucial in the absence of Ochoa, Hirving Lozano, and Raul Jiménez. Sitting in front of the back, providing them cover, Álvarez also provided traits that can support the attacking efforts. He excels at dribbling past defenders and effortlessly delivers a wide range of passes, adding a different dimension to his game.

It was his last-minute equaliser against Honduras which essentially sent Mexico to Copa América. After losing the first leg 2-0, Álvarez scored a 90+11th minute goal to send the tie to extra time and penalties, where Mexico would finally seal their qualification for the tournament.

Joining Álvarez in midfield, Lozano is expected to decide between Érick Sanchez and Charly Rodríguez, but Sanchez's recent CONCACAF Champions League victory with Pachuca and his dynamic attacking presence make him a compelling choice for the starting XI. His impressive performances for the Hidalgo side have attracted interest from La Liga's Sevilla and Club América.

For the final position in a three-man midfield, Dinamo Moscow star Luis Chávez is likely to make up the list. A solid choice as Chávez is a box-to-box midfielder, able to contribute going forward but also is comfortable in supporting Mexico with the defensive duties. For this game against Jamaica, Mexico will be expected to dominate the possession, with Cháves' duties to be more in attack rather than defence. Having scored four goals for the national team since 2022, the former Pachuca man will be hoping to add to his account against the Reggae Boyz.

Forwards - Julián Quiñones (Left Wing), Santiago Giménez (Striker), Uriel Antuna (Right Wing)

Julian Quinones, Santiago Gimenez
Mexico v Brazil - International Friendly / Tim Warner/GettyImages

The right wing position is still up for debate between Antuna and Alvarado, but we predict that Antuna will be chosen. The Cruz Azul forward, a former Manchester City Academy graduate, has played a key role in Cruz Azul's revolution during the Clausura campaign, helping the club reach the final. The 2023/24 season was the best of the 26-year-old's career, scoring 14 goals in 37 games from the right wing, including a goal in the final.

Antuna is a dynamic winger who consistently puts pressure on the defence when he's on the ball. He's confident and skilled at taking on defenders, as well as delivering precise crosses to his teammates. While he had a disappointing showing against Brazil, his talent is undeniable.

Whilst Roberto Alvarado will likely fight for the position, Lozano also has the option of Alexis Vega, the Toluca attacking midfielder who is capable of playing on the right.

On the left flank, Julián Quiñones is expected to start. Originally from Colombia but now a naturalized Mexican, Quiñones is on the brink of a move to the Saudi league. Departing Liga MX on a high note, he scored 23 goals and provided 10 assists as América achieved the double this season. Quiñones is known for his speed, lethal finishing, and ability to find the right position on the field. His goal against Brazil showcased his ability to be a constant threat in the box, highlighting what he can bring to the Mexican side.

If it doesn't work well with Quiñones, Cesar Huerta is also an option as a left sided winger who is comfortable running at defenders.

Finally, there is the striker position, where Lozano has no doubts about who will lead the line: Santiago Giménez. A lethal finisher, Giménez excels at getting involved in the build-up play. He has been instrumental for Feyenoord, effectively connecting the midfield with the attack by holding the ball well and advancing his teammates up the pitch. With 23 goals in the Eredivisie last season, the 23-year-old is attracting interest from Europe's top clubs and will be aiming for a strong summer to secure a move to a 'Big 5' league ahead of next season.

As shown against Brazil, where Giménez failed to make an impression, Guillermo Martínez is another option if Mexico are chasing the game and needs a tall and strong forward to cause problems in the box. His rebounded equaliser against Brazil showed exactly why he is in the squad, and what he can provide is Mexico needs a goal late in a game.