South Africa v Mexico

Where to start the match analysis? I know….with Telmex! Did I go to the Zocalo to watch the game on the big screen? Nope…Telmex promised to bring me my new modem today to reconnect me with my virtual world. Did they come? Well, if I tell you I’m typing this in an internet cafe, does that pretty much tell the story? Pinche Telmex pendejos. Forgive the language. Somehow, profanity in another language never seems so bad….

But. The game. Sigh. The same again. Lots of play. Some decent chances. Some wasteful finishing. I do have a number of observations to make though. Starting with Oscar Perez, the keeper. What happened to him? Something good in the water in his local well. I remember watching him a couple of years ago for Cruz Azul. Gave me palpitations every time he went near the ball.

A blunder a minute, and then they shipped him out to go play somewhere else. Very much the Mexican version of England’s David ´Calamity´James in his Liverpool days. I was surprised to see him in the final 23. Even more surprised to see him named as Mexico’s number one keeper. But to be fair, he looks a different player compared to the Conejo I saw at Estadio Azul.

Next, Rafael Marquez. Quality through and through. World class. Which is why Barcelona took him in all those years ago. He’s a good central/defensive midfielder. And, unlike the front two today, he can shoot straight. I have no problem with Marquez playing in midfield per se. But I do see problems with Mexico’s defence when Marquez isn’t there.

South Africa really aren’t terribly good. And they didn’t have an awful lot of possession. But when they did counter, they split the Mexican defence like the proverbial knife through butter. I think Mexico would do better to have Marquez move back into the back four.

On to the strikers, Vela and Franco. No, no, no, no, no! Señor Aguirre, to win games, you need to score goals. Which Vela and Franco just do’t look like doing. In fact I’m pretty sure there was someone in Row Z that Franco had taken a dislike to, because that’s where he kept belting the ball. I know. Franco did score against England. Just. From about three yards, and even then he didn’t really hit it sweet. And Vela scored against Italy. Just. He hit it at the keeper, as usual. But that time, the keeper kindly moved out of the way.

Vela and Franco are both proven non scorers in the English game. Chicharito is far from a proven scorer at international level, but at least he isn’t proven to not be so. And Medina….after such fine strikes against Italy and Chile, he has got to be worth his place.

Giovanni Dos Santos could be a serious star at this world cup if he gets a little more of a rub of the green. He’s quick, fleet footed and has a shot. He could be the new Blanco. What about the old Blanco? Well he is old. And slow. But…

I thought after such a composed first half, Mexico started the second half with little spirit, little idea of how to break through, and they lost their concentration. They gave the ball away repeatedly, and I wasn’t surprised that South Africa got a goal. Even if I was surprised at the ferocity of the shot that got it for them. Even after the goal, Mexico failed to turn up the heat.

Then Blanco came on. Some say he’s too old. Too slow. Nonsense, in my humble opinion. Without even doing an awful lot, he changed the game. The fans and players spirits were lifted. They had a new target. South Africa faced a player who could do something different. The game changed back in Mexico’s favour the moment he stepped off the bench.

Not that he is simply a mascot of some sort, who doesn’t contribute. He delivered as many quality balls into the box in 20 minutes as the rest of the team had in the preceding 70. Blanco is capable of playing only about 20 minutes these days, but he creates goals, and still scores goals. I don’t think any Mexican needs telling, that that is a key problem with the rest of the team! And that’s why he still brings value to El Tri.

Next up, France. And I will go to the Zocalo for that game. The French drew rather tamely with Uruguay today. The group is tight, and it’s anyone’s game. Any of the four could still qualify, but I’m sticking with my initial prediction of Mexico and South Africa. But before any further action happens in Group A, the more important business of Group C happens tomorrow! Come on England, Come on England, Come On England….!

by Shine 2010

Photo courtesy of Shine 2010.

7 thoughts on “South Africa v Mexico

  1. I like your analysis senor…

    I think Hernandez and especially Medina should be considered as starters. I was supprised not to see Medina today. Well, remains to be seen. Historically, first game is always tricky (for any nation). I think the game was a quality one. Much better than the France vs. Uruguay.

    Vamos Mexico!

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    1. I agree with your agreement! Hopefully Medina will make an appearance, preferably from the start, against France. And yep, it was an awful lot better than France and Uruguay. They both played poorly enough to give Mexico plenty of reason for optimism.

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  2. I agree with you, Gary. I’ve been very impressed with Mexico’s general play, but they cannot finish for toffee! I also agree that Blanco still brings something, even if there’s no way he could go for 90 minutes. He’s pure class though and they’re crying out for someone to fill his shoes. The good news is that the group is wide open now – what with France being plain s**** this year. I was stunned by how lacklustre they looked against Uruguay. Come on, Mexico, don’t lose heart and you could get through this group!

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    1. Blanco put a couple of top quality balls into the box late on, one for Chicharito. I wasn’t that stunned by France’s poor display. It was very much in keeping with the France that barely qualified for the World Cup to start with, and the France that lost against China last week.

      If they do manage to squeak through this group, I can’t see them getting far. I’m very much looking forward to seeing South Africa take them on as well as Mexico next Thursday.

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  3. Minutes away from the ‘real match’ this weekend and thought I would chime in.

    Both teams played with a lot of heart. Much better than the yawner that followed.

    You are spot on with the strikers. Suspect Medina and/or Chicharito for the next match.

    Marquez in the midfield was interesting to say the least until SA counterattack goal, he hung back more after that. I think it ‘can’ work but not against speedy opponents. AKA maybe against France, probably not against Uruguay.

    Hope for a good match. We’ll see you on the other side……..

    Michael

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    1. By the ‘real match’ I’m assuming you’re referring to England and the US. Well, I’ll comment on that here, as the performance just doesn’t merit a post of it’s own. Where to start? How about Rob Green….

      I’ve long said Hart should be starting. And no word of a lie, I had just told the fellow Englander sitting next to me watching the game, that the reason I’d prefer Hart is that he doesn’t fumble the ball like Green does. Green has fumbled the ball when he should have taken it cleanly a number of times in recent England games, but gotten away with it, and made a few decent saves to allow people to overlook it. I’d said the same thing to my Mexican friends when we were watching England v Mexico a few weeks ago.

      I’d barely got the words out of my mouth when he fumbled the ball right into the net…

      Wright Phillips is not good enough. Nor is Milner, by a long shot. Lennon suffers the same problems in providing the final ball that Walcott does. Is Capello still experimenting?!?!?

      I hope Barry is fit and ready for Algeria, and back to top form for the knock out rounds. And I hope Capello sees sense and plays Joe Cole.

      Defensively we have problems too. King isn’t up to it, and Carragher just doesn’t have the pace. But if the forwards and midfielders can take control of the game, that should be less noticeable.

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