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International Friendly: Mexico Clash with Iceland in Nations League Tune-up

Mexico vs Iceland

Mexico are set to meet Iceland for an international friendly in Texas, which will serve as El Tri’s tune-up match ahead of their big CONCACAF Nations League semi-final against Costa Rica on June 3.

The Icelanders will not be participating in the upcoming Euro 2020 after their heartbreaking defeat in the play-off final, and they will also be without some of their high-profile players, most notably Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson, against Mexico.

Those absences should improve El Tri’s international friendly 2021 betting odds to win at AT&T Stadium, where they have already enjoyed much success in recent years.

Read on below for SBOTOP’s comprehensive preview of this intriguing international friendly.

Talking Points

Mexico must get ready for Nations League action

Mexico are back in action for the first time since their two friendlies against Wales and Costa Rica back in March. El Tri lost 1-0 to Wales in Cardiff, which snapped their impressive 10-match unbeaten run (nine wins, one draw). However, they quickly bounced back with a 1-0 win against Costa Rica thanks to a late Hirving Lozano goal.

Mexico will face the Costa Ricans again in the Nations League semi-final on June 3. If Mexico win, they will face the winner of Honduras-United States in the final on June 6.

Manager Tata Martino has called up a strong squad for this friendly against Iceland, which will serve as El Tri’s Nations League tune-up.

Andres Guardado – the second-most capped player in El Tri history with 165 caps – will once again captain the side, with fellow centurions like goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa (111 caps) and Hector Moreno (109 caps) also included in the squad.

Mexico’s two Los Angeles-based superstar strikers – Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez – are still not part of the El Tri set-up, though. Vela has opted not to take part despite Martino’s desire to have him in the squad. Meanwhile, Martino has continued not to call up ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, the country’s all-time leading scorer with 52 goals in 109 caps.

In the absence of Vela and Hernandez – as well as Raul Jimenez, who will not take part in the summer tournaments after missing most of last season with Wolves in the Premier League with a head injury – Hirving Lozano will lead the line for El Tri. Lozano, who scored 11 goals in 32 appearances for Napoli this season, has 12 goals in 43 caps for his country.

Iceland missing key playmaker

Gylfi Sigurdsson aims a win in international friendly after Iceland missed the Euro 2020
Iceland’s Gylfi Sigurdsson shoots at goal during the Euro 2020 qualifier against Turkey

Iceland return to action for the first time since their trio of World Cup qualifying matches which began in late March. They lost their first two qualifiers away to Germany and Armenia before thrashing Liechtenstein 1-4.

That win snapped the Icelanders’ ugly seven-match losing streak, which included their heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to Hungary in the Euro 2020 play-off final in November. Iceland took an early lead and were minutes away from going through, but they surrendered two late goals to lose 2-1.

The big international friendly 2021 news for Iceland is that they will be without some key players. England-based midfielders Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) and Johann Berg Gudmundsson (Burnley) are not with the squad to rest after the end of the Premier League season. Sigurdsson’s absence will be a big miss; he has 25 goals for his country and is also their primary playmaker.

Manager Arnar Vidarsson has called up eight youngsters who could make their international debut against Mexico. But Iceland still have much experience in the side with captain Aron Gunnarsson, Birkir Bjarnason, Birkir Mar Saevarsson and Ragnar Sigurdsson, who all have well over 90 caps for their country.

Meanwhile, Kolbeinn Sigthorsson — the country’s all-time co-leading scorer with 26 goals — will be tasked with providing the goals. However, the 31-year-old has not scored for the national team since October 2019.

History

This will be the fifth all-time meeting between Mexico and Iceland, all of which have been friendlies. El Tri are undefeated in their first four matches; after two goalless draws in 2003 and 2010, they have won back-to-back matches in 2017 and 2018.

Their most recent meeting in 2018 was also held in the USA. Miguel Layun bagged a brace in a 3-0 Mexico win. Mexico are 6-1-1 in the eight matches they’ve played in AT&T Stadium, which has effectively been a home game for them. Mexican fans always come out in droves to support El Tri in Dallas, which should once again give them a sufficient advantage as they look to get the win against Iceland.