We have the first game of the World Cup under our belts, and…a 1-1 tie.
That’s got to be frustrating for Mexico. They played remarkably well in their three warmup friendlies, losing to England and Holland but beating Italy. But the results were somewhat unimportant with shifting lineups. The point is that they played extremely well.
Mexico came in and dominated the first half. South Africa got a goal ten minutes into the second half and it made Mexico play with a sense of urgency.
1. Can someone explain to me why Andres Guardado didn’t start? I sure hope it was injury, because he played the perfect ball that gave Mexico its goal.
2. In many ways — and I know I’m a Yank speaking about Mexican football, so I will attempt to speak cautiously — Mexico in this game reminded me of why they have less success than they should, especially against the United States. They control the ball beautifully but never take chances. Finally, when they do lose possession, the opponent counter and scores.
3. While it pains me to say it, I commented to my wife, “Mexico domino el partido, pero verdadamente Sudafrica creo mucho mas chances claros.” Or that is, Mexico dominated the game, but South Africa created more clear chances. If clear chances is the measure of the game, Mexico is somewhat lucky to escape with a tie.
4. No host country has ever failed to advance, including Japan and South Korea, or the analogously prepubescent USA in 1994. Can South Africa? It doesn’t look likely.
5. Can Mexico advance? On paper, South Africa is the weakest team in the group. Mexico plays quite well, but sometimes in my opinion thinks that playing prettily is preferable to winning. In my opinion, France and Uruguay are a touch better than Mexico, although I will admit to being impressed by Mexico in their warmup games. However, Mexico can definitely play with France and Uruguay better than South Africa can. Although it’s a tough result for Mexico, I wouldn’t count them out yet.
6. Cuauhtemoc Blanco. What was Javier Aguirre thinking? Blanco looked horrible out there. His first touch bounced 10 yards away from him. Obviously he’s slow and almost 40, but wow. Maybe I missed something, because all I saw was horrible. There are games where Blanco can be effective, but this wasn’t it.
7. Javier Aguirre. I would’ve started El Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) and Guardado. I definitely wouldn’t have played Blanco in that situation. Context is important.
8. Gotta stop the counterattack, El Tri.