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Mexico served humbling lesson as knockout rounds loom

Nearly everything that could have gone wrong did for Mexico. For the first time in Russia, El Tri was sloppy and careless. In response, Sweden scored goal after goal, punishing El Tri for their worst performance in this World Cup.

Despite it all going wrong, though, the soccer gods took care of Mexico, who will live to fight another day after a major humbling on Wednesday.

For the seventh consecutive tournament, Mexico successfully navigated a group to advance to the knockout stages. However, if they hope to erase the curse of the fifth game that has plagued them each of the past six trips, they’ll need to look like the complete opposite of the team that showed up against Sweden.

“Showed up” might even be too nice for Mexico, which was never truly in it on Wednesday. Aside from a few looks from Carlos Vela in the first half, Mexico created little in the attacking third. El Tri maintained possession, sure, but that was by design as Sweden looked to counter quickly and stay strong in defense. The Swedes did just that as they played intelligent, disciplined and, ultimately, successful soccer against a team that had cruised thus far.

Defensively, though, Mexico was shambolic. The first goal was a poor deflection, sure, but there was also a defensive breakdown. The second goal was a certain penalty kick. The third? A sloppy own goal that served as a fitting metaphor for a Mexico team that couldn’t get out of its own way.

It was a far cry from the Mexico that toppled Germany or cruised past South Korea. That Mexico was decisive and disciplined, led by a standout defense that was playing as well as any unit in Russia. That Mexico was composed with Vela, Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez and Hirving Lozano leading an attack that was finding ways to get it done. That Mexico was also almost identical to the team placed on the field as Juan Carlos Osorio, for the first time in quite awhile, stuck to his guns rather than rotating.

Could it have been tired legs? Sure. Could it have been a lack of focus? Absolutely. Could it have been a combination of a number of things as well as a Sweden team that was absolutely determined to make their own move? That’s certainly in play too.

But, whatever Wednesday was, Mexico will need more in the next round, regardless of who awaits. The first two matches of the World Cup showed just how much trouble Mexico could cause teams in the next round. The third showed just how much trouble Mexico could be in if they fail to show up against a team that will likely be superior than the one they faced on Wednesday

Mexico has the ability to beat any team in the tournament. Even with Germany’s failures, that result demonstrated that, no matter how bad they were on Wednesday, Mexico genuinely deserved to go through.

The group stage showed that El Tri is a team to be reckoned with. That is if they can get out of their own way when the knockout stages begin.

Comments

  1. i disagree with ryan’s assessment of mexico so far.

    my two cents: i’m very proud of mexico in this tournament. they played a clean (not too many fouls), exciting, attacking and possession kind of football in all three games so far, with a little dash of trickery and guile as well. i thought they played their same game against sweden on wednesday. i think as ryan said sweden had a strategy to maybe bunker in more and counter so that’s maybe more of what we saw in that game. but basically i thought mexico for their part came out the same way in all three games. and played very well in all three games.

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    • i think my happiest moments of watching football so far in this world cup came from watching mexico, peru and russia, in that order. mexico is making this wc very fun for me.

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    • mexico, peru and russia all have a clean, fun, fast, exciting, attacking and possession kind of style that i enjoy watching.

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    • maybe what ryan is referring to is that every team hits its limit somewhere. mexico we all know usually hits its limit in world cups in the round of 16. that’s been the ceiling for mexico (no offense). although wednesday’s game against sweden occurred in group play, SWEDEN IS PROBABLY ON THAT LEVEL where mexico usually hits its limit. so i don’t see it as “mexico played poorly” on wednesday. i think the opposite, they played very well. i think maybe mexico hit their limit against sweden, so their usual methods that have beaten many other teams weren’t working so well. and on monday, mexico will be over their heads and their usual methods will probably not work at all. but if that happens, that doesn’t mean mexico didn’t play well. the opponent was just too good, that’s all.

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  2. We live in an age where one party grossly overacts to the simpleton/dumb point of view of another.

    Ps Mexico, to my frustration, played great the first two games.

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  3. Osorio has a knack for losing by big scorelines. Chile, Germany, and now this. It’s been 40 years since Mexico lost by that amount.

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  4. The Fox commentators were thanking South Korea after the match. Unprofessionalism aside, it seems that El Tri and it’s supporters spend a fair amount of time thanking other countries for their success.

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    • well the usa needed similar help to get out of our groups in both the 2002 and 2014 wc’s.

      https://sbisoccer.com/2018/06/world-cup-day-14-live-commentary/comment-page-2#comments

      two cents/lowercase letters guy
      the crowd was just informed that, due to the concurrence of events in the other match, mexico is through! much jubilation for mexico fans and great relief!

      two cents/lowercase letters guy
      we there “there” once or twice, too. i forget in which wc’s, the usa fans were similarly informed over the loud speaker that we got lucky and thanks to other results WE’RE THROUGH! big congrats to mexico, they certainly deserve it, they played well.

      MidWest Ref
      2002 – the US got spanked by Poland (3-0 I think), and the US only got through because the Portuguese started kicking South Korea and the Reds got fed up and scored, putting the US through.

      MidWest Ref
      in Brazil 2014 – the US got beat by Germany in the final game, but Portugal couldn’t score enough (they needed 3+) and the US advanced on goal differential. Had Ghana won by 2, the US would have gone out

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  5. brazil is a little soft on defense. and mexico has a strong attack. i think there is a danger for brazil. we’ll see on monday, should be a good one!

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    • Mexico qualified because the made enough points and the rest of the teams didn’t.

      We live in an age where ignorance and stupidity are worn like some sort of badge of honor. People are a little too proud to be idiots. “My pappy was an idiot, his pappy was an idiot… we come from a long line of idiots …..inbreeding as a bitch….

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