Mexico under Gerardo “Tata” Martino playing in a starting 1-4-1-4-1 formation, still refers to Bielsa’s style with high pressing and wide positioning of the offensive wingers. They often adopt a 1-4-3-3 shape in the final attacking phase.
Mexico prefer defending with a high central block and trying to adapt to the situation depending on the opponent. They are more compact between the lines – often using a tight organised structure in the centre, making them more difficult to force through the middle, but also more effective in transition phase by providing their midfielders with high starting positions when the ball is intercepted. They have two defensive midfielders in the center who rarely go forward even when they have the ball. In this way they maintain a double block in front of the central defenders and are able to one-to-one marking even two of the opponent’s strikers.
If there are not many players involved in the rivals’ attack Mexico tries to stay narrow in the defense. The defenders line up narrowly pushing opponents outside. One of the defensive midfielders plays deeper (Alvarez) and always retreats to his own area in defense, where he forms a temporary 1-3-4-3 with the central defenders (Araujo, Montes). The three of them then form a defensive line in front of their own box area engaging the opponents and encouraging them to change direction of the game and pass through wide channels.
After intercepting the ball their first intention is to direct the ball to alone striker (Jimenez) although they do not avoid patiently building up the action.
When playing from goal with the goalkeeper actively involved (Ochoa) the central defenders position themselves wider and the full backs (Gallardo, Sanchez) move further forward. Their intention is then to create a numerical advantage and once the desired overload is achieved passes are exchanged in search of free spaces. The defenders actively support the attacks and try to create an advantage in the opponent’s structure while the forward at this time engages the opposing defenders by pulling them off their line and looking for free spaces. Hence the build-up phase of their attacks is often not pleasant to watch as it lasts a long time and involves repeated sequences of passing into next zones in search of an overloading.
When this patterns fails they also use direct passes behind the defending line after entering the offensive third, followed by attempted crosses towards the striker or a more direct approach in which the offensive midfielders roam positions with the striker while he holds up play.