Mexico face a daunting task if they are to progress to the quarter finals of the World Cup. Beat an Argentina team which contains a plethora of World stars and in the process make history.
Mexico’s form has been indifferent in qualification. A 1-1 draw with South Africa was followed by a historic victory over the farcical French then a disappointing 1-0 loss to Uruguay. In the end 4 points was enough to squeak by in 2nd place courtesy of a greater goal difference than the hosts.
Meanwhile Argentina have been clinical and impressive while seemingly only playing in 3rd gear. Nigeria were beaten 1-0, South Korea humbled 4-1 and Greece dispatched 2-0 with a consummate ease. Worringly,Lionel Messi has still to score and hit top form.
Despite this all is not lost for “El Tri”. They have impressed in spells and are capable of threatening any team on their day. Giovani Dos Santos is more than capable of opening defences’ if given space and opportunity and Javier Hernandez has impressed in the limited game time he has been given. Rafael Marquez has been solid in midfield, scoring once and creating for his team-mates and the whole team has garnered praise with their attacking style of play.
However, the real for Mexico concern is in defence with set plays and high balls causing huge problems. Such lapses will surely be exposed by the likes of Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Lionel Messi. Argentina will likely enjoy the bulk of possession so a probable quartet of Carlos Salcido, Francisco Rodriguez, Ricardo Osorio and Hector Moreno (playing in front of Oscar Perez) will need to bekeenly, aware and equal to the imposing attacking threat. A classic back’s to the wall performance may be needed especially if Mexico are fortunate to take the lead. The defenders cannot afford the slip-ups evident against South Africa and Uruguay.
The team before the match against France
Coach Javier Aguirre has opted for a 4-4-3 formation in the group phase but against Argentina a more defensive, midfield will be needed. Gerardo Torrado and Rafael Marquez will have to drop deeper when needed and another midfielder may have to be employed at the expense of an attacker. Efrain Juarez should return from suspension on the right hand side and the midfield can be completed by either Andres Guardado or Paul Aguilaron the left. The midfield battle will be key on Sunday and the “centro campista’s” must stifle Argentinean creativity, match up to Javier Mascherano and Maxi Rodriguez and provide the attackers with ammunition on the counter attack.
This leaves Mexico with two attackers and given his form Dos Santos must be included. The little playmaker is the team’s main creative influence and the bridge to attacking options however he may not enjoy the same level of possession as previous games. As a result he also may have to drop deeper to collect the ball. Carlos Vela should play as the target man if he recovers from injury. He is young and more mobile than the other options and will have to chase down lost balls and harass the Argentinean defence. Although he has still to open his tournament goal account he has looked dangerous .
Giovani Dos Santos
However, Aguirre has baffled many with his previous desire to use Guillermo Franco and Cuauhtémoc Blanco and may opt for experience again. Both of these players have been largely, unimpressive and lack the legs of years before. Enthusiasm, youth and energy will be the order of the day and Aguirre must utilise Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez as a substitute at some point in the game.
Mexico are no strangers to 2nd round exits. The quarter finals have been beyond the team for the last four finals with Argentina being their conquerors in Germany 4 years ago. 8 of the current remain from the 2-1 in Leipzig and Mexico’s goal scorer on that day, Rafael Marquez is keen to ensure history is not repeated.
“We are better than that Mexico team, which didn’t have so many players in European teams,” Marquez said. “Argentina has the best player in the world, Leo Messi, and that makes them more complete, but we will try to change all that. I have a thorn in my side from four years ago and hopefully on Sunday we can take it out.”
Mexico Captain Gerardo Torrado was also aware of the task ahead when asked today ;
“We have an encounter ahead which we have to enjoy but we will play to the death to win it,” he said.”In this game it is necessary to continue advancing and to follow our dream so we will not lack attitude.”
There exists a steely, determination in the Mexican camp and a desire to mark their names in World Cup history. It remains to be seen if “Aztecan Guerrero’s (Warrior’s) can match their heroics against the Gaul’s and shock the world on Sunday.
One thing for certain many if not all of the players will have to have the game of their lives.
Match Prediction 1-1 (Mexico to triumph in penalty shoot-out).