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….!
Photo courtesy of Shine 2010.