5 Mexico players to watch at the World Cup
MEXICO CITY (AP) With few big names in its squad, Mexico could find it hard to make it out of its World Cup group.
The Mexicans were drawn into Group A with Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon, and the absence of some European-based players won't help.
Manchester United forward Javier Hernandez and Villarreal forward Giovani Dos Santos should be there, but Real Sociedad forward Carlos Vela - maybe the country's top offensive player - is a notable absence. Vela has declined to play for the national team, citing personal reasons.
Here are five players to watch:
Rafael Marquez will be playing at his fourth World Cup and is charged with bringing much-needed experience and leadership.
The former Barcelona defender, now Mexico's 35-year-old captain, has had a mixed record since the last World Cup. Three injury-plagued seasons at MLS team New York Red Bulls seemed to mark the end of his career at the top level, but in December 2012 he signed for Mexican club Leon and led the team to a league title last year.
Marquez's strength is starting Mexico's attacks from his center back position and in reading the game. Opposition teams may seek to exploit his lack of pace.
Javier Hernandez is closing in on becoming Mexico's top all-time goal scorer, but the Manchester United striker may not start in Brazil despite being the team's most recognizable name and a regular since the last World Cup.
Lack of minutes in the Premier League has hampered Hernandez's chances at the international level, and Oribe Peralta appears to be ahead of him in coach Miguel Herrera's pecking order.
''Chicharito,'' the nickname he wears on his shirt, is likely to play the role of substitute at the World Cup as he does for his club when it needs a late goal.
Known mainly for his ability to convert chances in the penalty area, a goal from Hernandez against France at the last World Cup helped secure a big win for Mexico.
Carlos Pena is one of the younger players that will be looking to make an impact at the World Cup with a move to Europe after the tournament a possibility.
The attacking midfielder has secured a starting place for Mexico over the last six months and helped Leon to a 2013 Mexican league title.
Pena is physically strong, has good stamina and is a goal-scoring threat. His nickname ''Gullit'' is derived from a hairstyle that resembles Netherlands great Ruud Gullit.
GIOVANI DOS SANTOS
Giovani Dos Santos debuted for Barcelona when he was just 18 and was compared to Brazil great Ronaldinho. But the forward's career stalled when he moved to Tottenham in 2008 and struggled for playing time.
The half-Brazilian joined Villarreal last year and has found some consistent form in Spain.
Dos Santos was heavily criticized in Mexico for his performances in World Cup qualifying. But he played on the wing, instead of down the center, where he is set to feature for ''El Tri'' in Brazil.
Oribe Oeralta was the star in Mexico's gold-medal win at the London Olympics and is set to lead the national team's attack at the World Cup.
Peralta made a name for himself late in his career, but has scored goals consistently over the last two years for both Santos Laguna and for Mexico.
An all-round striker who can also create chances, Peralta is known for his work rate and ability to score spectacular goals.