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Confederations Cup opener provides no reprieve for Mexico

Jun 16, 2013, 5:35 PM EST

Mexico v Italy: Group A - FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Getty Images

Away from CONCACAF opponents reticent to engage them, Mexico was supposed to thrive. At least, that was the hope headed into the Confederations Cup. Instead the all-draw Tri, 1-5-0 in World Cup qualifying, saw things go from meh to worse, losing 2-1 in their ConFed opener to Italy.

Andrea Pirlo opened the scoring with a dead ball strike that deserves its own post. Javier Hernández equalized from the spot, closing scoring in an entertaining first half. In the 78th minute, Mario Balotelli gave Italy full points and dashed early hopes a trip to Brazil would cure Mexico’s woes.

A one-goal loss to Italy, however, is nothing to bemoan, though the underlying metrics aren’t as encouraging. Italy outshot Mexico 6-3 in terms of attempts on target, 16-10 overall. Cesare Prandelli’s team also held the ball 59 percent of the time. While at times Mexico played like a team deserving of equal footing with the Italians, the final score said otherwise.

Whether that’s enough to reignite the Chepo de la Torre debate is another question. After his team’s home draw to Costa Rica to close its week of qualifying, the former Toluca-man’s viability has come into question. But with a tournament in Brazil coming over the horizon, a quick change would have been difficult. As Zac Lee Rigg notes, timing was on Chepo’s side.

Time, however, may not be. Mexico’s still a strong bet to qualify out of CONCACAF, but that’s a distorted standard that understates how this team should be perceived. That standard is the 2011 Gold Cup, where Mexico showed it’s capable of being one of the best teams in the world. El Tri are far off that standard now.

That team was also coached by Chepo, who, for whatever reason, has lost the ability to get such performances out of this group. With his team again failing to score from open play, it’s also unclear de le Torre can get goals. Mexico’s adrift, surprisingly so given their talent.

Especially at the international level, you can’t change the players, so if Mexico doesn’t come around over the next week, the Federación may have to change the coach.

  1. footballer4ever - Jun 16, 2013 at 7:25 PM

    It was a great match but Mexico did not look any better from the WC qualifiers. The deal breaker should be Mex vs Japan if they keep their coach or not.

  2. schmutzdeck - Jun 16, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    “Mexico’s still a strong bet to qualify out of CONCACAF, but that’s a distorted standard that understates how this team should be perceived. That standard is the 2011 Gold Cup, where Mexico showed it’s capable of being one of the best teams in the world. El Tri are far off that standard now.”

    ???

    How is it that Mexico’s 2011 Gold Cup performance showed “it’s capable of being one of the best teams in the world”? Mexico looked great in that Gold Cup but the teams in that tournament were not and still are not among “the best teams in the world”. Beating up on them was not grounds for conferring “one of the best teams in the world” status on El Tri.

    • slimjim774 - Jun 17, 2013 at 6:58 PM

      Thank you! I am tired of Mexico being heralded as an emerging global power in soccer. I read another article where they were declared the “dark horse of WC 2014″.

      PLEASE! The best teams in the world consist of nations such as Spain, Brazil, Italy, France, Netherlands, and Germany. Do you really want to throw Mexico in a group like that?

      If you want to talk about an emerging global power, look at Belgium.

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