It was all just about bragging rights really. In the English Premier League game, derby matches are always important, regardless of the league position of the two teams, regardless of who wins what trophy, regardless of any relegation that might happen. It’s all about bragging rights. The ability of the winning teams supporters to be able to wave victory in the face of their fellow city dwellers. For at least a few months.
England v Mexico was a derby match for me, albeit an international derby that no one else will recognise as such. I’ve held the bragging rights for the five years I’ve been here, since England crushed Mexico in 2001 (I think) with a 4-0 margin. And I’ll hold those bragging rights for….well, who knows. If England and Mexico both win their World Cup groups, and come through their first knock out matches, we’d meet in the Quarter finals. So the bragging rights are mine till then at least. In your face, losers!!!
There’s a million different ways to analyse yesterday’s game. That was one of the most disjointed and underwhelming England performances since Capello took charge. On the other hand, there were four players in the team – Milner, Carrick, King and Baines – who will not start for England in the World Cup. Five if I had my way. I’d pick Joe Hart in goal ahead of Rob Green.
Gerrard also played out of position on the left in the first half. He just isn’t any good out there. And of course, the Chelsea contingent of Terry, Lampard and Cole were all rested. England learned what won’t work yesterday. Nothing more. Personally, I’d have liked to see England playing like they mean it, like they’ll need to in a couple of weeks. Not still experimenting with players and formations.
As for Mexico. Pobrecitos! You can look at their performance very positively. They were quick, passed well, created some great chances. They were by far the better team in the first half, and still competitive in the second half, although England did run them a little ragged as the game wore on. But. But, but, but. What’s the saying? They played like never before. Lost like always. When you get a chance, you have to score. Or all the pretty play before it was a waste of time. Mexico need to start finishing more clinically.
It is, to be honest, easier to judge Mexico from this game. Their preparations have been ongoing for longer, they’ve played more games recently and they fielded a team that is pretty close to being the ‘finished article’. Bar Perez in goal – who didn’t do so badly really. I must confess I have little faith in him normally! I personally choose to take the positive point of view – if they can build on this and get themselves into a scoring streak in South Africa, they’ll do well.
Their preparations have been incredibly thorough, including putting together a tough triple Euro friendly schedule against England, Holland and Italy, all away. I had my doubts about that sort of fixture list. Being on the end of three thrashings isn’t the way you want to go into a World Cup. But they’ve come through the first game with a lot of credit. I suspect they’ll lose against Holland too I’m afraid. Maybe a 3-0. Playing them just two days after playing England will be tough. And Holland are tough.
But then they have a little rest, and on to what I think is the most important game of them all. Italy are there for the taking. I’m going to go for a 2-1 win for El Tri, and a huge high to take with them to South Africa. You can watch the highlights of the Mexico v England game by clicking here. Sadly, the FA don’t allow videos to be embedded. If the highlights are too painful to watch, then I have embedded a more upbeat video for all you Mexicans below, to help build up the hype and excitement.