Rustenburg: Mexico and Uruguay need only a draw in their Group A match on Tuesday to take both through to the next round of the World Cup, so both may choose to play cautiously to ensure they advance.
Mexico and Uruguay each have four points, while South Africa and France both have one point apiece. France and the host nation will be eliminated from the World Cup if Mexico and Uruguay draw.
Mexico has fielded attacking lineups in its two previous matches, in a 4-3-3 formation, a strategy that has won praise from pundits and other teams. Paraguay coach Gerardo Martino has said that Mexico is the best team he's seen at the tournament so far.
Mexico coach Javier Aguirre has no intention of playing for a draw, but is happy to accept that result if it means advancing to the round of 16.
"We're looking for the three points, like we did against South Africa and France," Aguirre said Monday. "We're not thinking about any other result."
There has been intense speculation in Mexico and Uruguay that both teams have come to an arrangement to play for a draw. But Aguirre denied that.
"We're going to try to win and I'm sure that Uruguay will do the same," he said. "Football is the winner when it's an energetic match."
The biggest decision Aguirre will have to make for Tuesday's match at Royal Bafokeng Stadium is who will be in his forward line.
Aguirre may choose to go with youngster Javier Hernandez over veteran Guillermo Franco, who started in Mexico's 1-1 draw against South Africa in the opening match and the 2-0 win over France.
But it was the 22-year-old Hernandez who made headlines when he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather — who scored in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland— by scoring the opening goal as a substitute against France.
Carlos Vela, who also started in the two previous matches, is not available because of a right leg injury, Aguirre said. The coach may decide to go with Pablo Barrera, the forward who replaced Vela when he was injured late in the first half against France.
Barrera impressed against France in his first World Cup appearance and is a strong candidate to fill in.
Mexico players trained at the stadium Monday afternoon, starting out with ball-control drills and stretching exercises.
Vela did not participate with the rest of the squad in the first 15 minutes of training and walked gingerly around the pitch for a couple of laps before alternating between light jogging and walking. He was accompanied by a trainer.
Mexico has an inferior goal difference to Uruguay, meaning it will finish second in the group in the event of a draw, and then would likely face a dominant Argentina in the round of 16. Aguirre will also be without midfielder Efrain Juarez, who is suspended after picking up two yellow cards.
Uruguay, meanwhile, has a full strength squad to choose from and coach Oscar Tabarez doesn't expect both teams to play for a draw.
"We don't want to go out and just defend against Mexico," Tabarez said. "The formation would only change if there were injuries or a player was suspended.
"For tomorrow, I haven't heard any reason to believe" that both teams will play for a draw, he added. "I don't know what speculation about that could be seen from our end."
Forward Luis Suarez also doesn't expect a dull match.
"We're raring to go," Suarez said. "We have one single objective here: our mindset since we started has been to win the group."
Uruguay has played well defensively and not conceded a goal in its two matches. The first match was a drab 0-0 draw against France, and Uruguay then beat South Africa 3-0.
Tabarez said the team's starting lineup will be the same as the one used in the win over South Africa. Forwards Diego Forlan, who scored twice and set up another goal, and Suarez will lead the attack.
"Forlan is an extraordinary player," Aguirre said. "He has great movement, a good shot and lives to score. But it's not only him, so we have to be attentive to all their players."