Mexico leading man Chicharito closing in on Aztec history
Javier Hernandez has had a mixed season to say the least, especially at club level, but now has the chance to carve his name into Mexican football folklore.
The Aztecs’ goal hero, nicknamed ‘Chicharito’, began his campaign in style by swapping Manchester United’s bench for the prestige of the Bernabeu.
Hernandez’s Real Madrid adventure has not quite gone to plan, however, and the once prolific poacher has struggled for both goals and game time.
Firmly behind Karim Benzema in the pecking order, Chicharito, famed for his happy go lucky disposition, professionalism and work ethic at Old Trafford, has seemed a shadow of his former self.
The 26-year-old has made just 13 La Liga appearances, contributing a meagre three goals and two assists to Carlo Ancelotti’s cause.
For the Spanish capital club (10/3 to lift La Liga), frontman Benzema’s primary role often seems to be to act as foil for the likes for Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, but link-up play is far from Hernandez’s strong suit.
With lethal Ronaldo in the ranks there has been little need for Chicharito’s skillset, and the Aztec attacker has barely had a sniff of the starting XI, even when the superstar was off-form.
Speaking recently, Chicharito told media: “My situation is frustrating. I cooperate, I help and give my 100 percent in training, but in the games, the opportunities are slim. I’m in a team but left out of what is important, which are the games.
“At times, my confidence is rock bottom, although I try for it to be sky high, thanks to the people that are always there with me and support me,” added the Mexico marksman.
Hernandez’s club concerns once looked likely to threaten his standing with El Tri, after the striker, who operates as a traditional centre forward, found space only as an impact substitute during the World Cup.
Miguel Herrera has recently incorporated Chicharito back into the starting XI, however, and the predator has repaid in kind, by striking twice in his last three outings for the Aztecs.
Hernandez’s exciting escapades for his nation bodes well for this summers upcoming Copa America, where the scrappy striker, who is expected to be put up for auction, can showcase himself in the shop window.
Now on an impressive 39 goals in 71 caps, the Old Trafford outcast is joint-second top scorer for Mexico (who are 9/2 to put three or more past Paraguay), just seven behind first placed ex-Bolton Wanderers sharpshooter Jared Borgetti, on 46.
There would be no better way to remind teams of his talent than by beating Borgetti’s record this summer, and it is certainly achievable, as the Aztecs have high expectations in the build-up to Chile.
Herrara’s heroic Hernandez, whose timing, finishing and movement would be an asset to many clubs, looks far sharper than the lacklustre Los Blancos fringe player, who cuts a lonely figure by comparison on the Bernabeu bench.
See Chicharito’s scorching strike last time out against Ecuador: