Argentina Mexico report

June 29, 2010

1. By now, everyone knows Carlos Tevez was offside. It was a pretty massive error in a goal that came clearly against the run of play. At that point, Mexico (Salcido) had hit the cross bar and (Guardado?) had a banana shot headed directly into the goal, only to swerve out at the very last second, maybe kissing the post as it did. Argentina was quite fortunate to have the game at 0-0.

Not as big an error as England’s goal against Germany, in my opinion, but pretty grave. The linesman got caught game-watching while out of position. As far as offsides calls go, this one wasn’t close to the hardest. Linesman are usually prepared to put up their flag when the goalie is out of the net, because they know offsides is much more likely.

2. Any goal is crucial, but especially the first goal. It changed the course of the game. Not many countries can beat Argentina when they suffer a misfortune that big. Adding insult to injury was watching Tevez’ offside score on the jumbotrons in the stadium. That certainly might have affected the huge error that gave Argentina their two goal lead.

3. I thought the Mexicans were pretty classy given what they suffered.

4. Great goal from Tevez. El Chicharito’s goal for Mexico was pretty stunning as well, equally for the turn on DiMichelis as for the finish. I think he showed himself well this World Cup, and Alex Ferguson is grinning inside for buying Javier Hernandez for a mere 10 million. Price would’ve been higher now.

5. I didn’t like the Veron for Tevez substitution. Tevez always seems to play better when he is involved in the flow of the game. He had been backtracking and winning balls in the midfield, belying Argentina’s supposed formation. Pulling him out for Veron was one of the factors that led Mexico to dominate the last 30+ minutes of play. That doesn’t matter too much when you’re up 3-0, but is the sort of thing that can bite you in a closer match.


Argentina gets the same draw in consecutive World Cups

June 27, 2010

In 2006, Argentina beat Mexico in the round of 16 and then lost to Germany on penalty kicks.

In 2010, Argentina will face Mexico in the round of 16. If it wins, it will face Germany.


Argentina advances! A fun day of games

June 18, 2010

Argentina advances. Dale! Well, actually, I thought Argentina advanced, but my father-in-law informed me at dinner that technically it is possible for Argentina to not advance. Even so, it’s gotta be like 99%.

1. I am less sanguine about Argentina than most. South Korea really should have scored when the game was 2-1. If they do, this is not a 4-1 game. Argentina beat Nigeria by 1 goal and South Korea by 3, where 2 goals were scored relatively late. Perhaps it is my experience rooting for Holland, but

2. Nigeria. Sigh. I was impressed by Nigeria in the 94 World Cup and have had a soft spot in my heart for them in World Cups since. I have few doubts that they are the second best team in this group. And even though they have 0 points, they still have a chance to advance if they can get it together and beat South Korea. They play well, but a stupid red card put a massive dent in the hopes of advancing for the 8th most populous nation in the world. Still, Argentina should beat Greece, so if Nigeria beats Korea, then Nigeria would advance. All is not lost, but they need to get it together.

3. Have I mentioned I don’t like Angel Di Maria? Of course I have, many times! He’s so overrated. After today, I don’t even think it’s opinion that he is having a terrible disaster of a World Cup (Maradona left Jesus Datolo and Ezequiel Lavezzi off the roster, dumb dumb dumb). My father in law agreed with me at dinner tonight, and liked my off the cuff suggestion to move Tevez into Di Maria’s slot. Aguero or Milito can play forward.

That’s the sick part of being Maradona. He just has so much talent available.

4. Have I mentioned I don’t like Jonas Gutierrez? Indeed I have. That yellow card was just stupid, an unforced error. Still, there is some reason for Gutierrez when Juan Sebastian Veron is playing, to cover Veron’s lack of mobility. However, he was out hurt today, and Maxi Rodriguez (who I would start in many tactical situations) was in his place, so there’s no conceivable excuse for having Gutierrez in the game.

5. Gonzalo Higuain scored 3 right-place, right-time goals. Hey, I’m a Higuain fan even if I don’t like River or Real Madrid: I criticized Maradona for months for keeping him out. Some people have the gift of being in the right spot: Martin Palermo generally does, Higuain does.

6. Maradona introduced Kun Aguero into the game at the perfect moment. My father in law mentioned this tonight. I hadn’t thought of it, but he is right.

7. Messi took for himself a deeper-lying playmaking role. To be honest, I didn’t have a problem with it. In the interview I saw with Messi, he made it sound like it was how he felt like playing at the moment. If it was Maradona’s idea, I give the Diego credit. I don’t really know that it was, but it softened the blow of Riquelme’s absence.

8. Nigeria’s goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (not gonna look it up now) had a little bit of a Robert Green moment. A shame for him, as he had perhaps been the best player of the World Cup until then.

9. Mexico! Raymond Domenech seems to be a worse manager than Diego Maradona, but vamos Mexico! France had the ball more often, but not by a lot, and never in very compromising positions. Mexico created the chances and today was absolutely the better side. I would like to point out that I yelled for Javier Hernandez to be introduced until he finally was…and quickly scored the first goal of the game. Amazing timing on his run to beat the offsides trap.

10. More importantly, Mexico looked to be a team focused on winning. As the Argentine announcers said after the game, they played directly. This has frequently been Mexico’s problem, but today it wasn’t, and beating France by 2 goals is a huge victory for Mexico and even for CONCACAF.

11. Mexico’s second goal was a penalty. The Argentine announcers (generally quality commentators) both repeated ad nauseum that it shouldn’t have been a PK, which nearly gave me a heart attack. I do not understand how any sensible person could possibly consider this. Que estupidez total!

12. No Henry, Raymond Domenech? Yet lots of Govou? I do not like. No me gusta para nada.

13. It is close to certain that Uruguay and Mexico advance. That means Uruguay v Mexico will determine who is able to avoid playing Argentina. Interestingly, Argentina beat Uruguay to force Uruguay into playing Costa Rica for the final World Cup spot, and Argentina beat Mexico in the round of 16 in the last World Cup.

14. The US needs a win against Slovenia tomorrow. I’m surprisingly nervous. All the games tomorrow (Germany v Serbia, US v Slovenia, England v Algeria) are quite interesting from my perspective, but probably because I’m an American.

Mexico v South Africa postgame

June 11, 2010

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.

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