Who? Denmark - Mexico
Where? Brøndby Stadion, Copenhagen
When? June 9, 20:00 (CET local time)
At the beginning of the millenium, Mexico had one of its best teams ever. In 1999 Mexico won the Confederation Cup after beating Brazil at the Final and in 2001 they reached the 2nd place in the Copa America, after defeat against the hosts Colombia. That team Created a lot of expectation going into the World Cup in 2002, only to lose against the US in the round of 16. During this era, most of the players used to play at the domestic league and only few left to play abroad.
Since then, the concept has changed a lot. At the next World Cup, for the first time in its history, Mexico will send a mostly European based team. 17 out of 23 are playing outside of Mexico. 3 of them are in the MLS, the Dos Santos brothers & Carlos Vela, but those 3 left Mexico while they were young and spent most of their careers in European teams.
Another notion is that this time the players insisted on playing all of their preparation games against European teams instead of having US based Friendlies against the local team or South American teams.
There is a big debate about the process of the “Europeanization” and if it is the formula that at least will help Mexico to excel in the World Cup. For the current squad and the administration of the national team there is a clear answer: Europe is the way. Having played only against European teams, Mexico will have one last test before the real deal. This time it will be against Denmark in Copenhagen.
Denmark will have a tough group in the World Cup, playing against France, Peru & Australia. Australia might not be the biggest hurdle, but Peru and of course France won’t be easy games for the Scandinavians. Apart of their biggest star, Christian Eriksen, they have a solid team with names like Kasper Schmeichel as a goalkeeper, young Andreas Christensen as well as Simon Kjær in the defence. Alongside with Eriksen you can find names like Lasse Schöne, Thomas Delaney or the veteran Michael Krohn-Dehli. Another player to keep on eye on is obviously Pione Sisto that can mix up the defences with hisspeed.
With all the respect to South Korea, Denmark will be the perfect test for Mexico just before they meet the real challenges: Germany and Sweden.