Thursday, June 17, 2010

Great Win

As the above photo (snagged from the El Universal website) demonstrates, lots of people in Mexico are talking about the victory over France as historic, the sort of confidence-builder that could lead to Mexico being a legitimate contender. It was a great win (Mexico's first ever against a team with a World Cup title), but everyone is getting a little ahead of themselves. For a couple hours after the game, the headline on the Excélsior site was, tellingly, "And now, to avoid Argentina", in reference to the likely opponent next round should Mexico fail to defeat Uruguay next Tuesday. That sentiment is pretty widespread, which, while understandable, suggests that there are limits to the newfound confidence. But there's no need to dwell on what the defeat of France doesn't mean for too long.

As far the players, Rafa Márquez has never looked better playing for el Tri than he has in the last two games. I remember someone telling me years ago, when he was still a major part of the Barcelona defense, that he was a better midfielder (where he used to play with Atlas as a youngster) than a defender. Turns out they were probably right. Franco looked no less like a waste of a starter against France than he did against South Africa (and he's got a mini-mullet now that makes him resemble a frog, to boot). Salcido was fantastic. Giovani was not as electrifying as he was against South Africa, but he still looked dangerous when he touched the ball. Pérez looked more confident, but I don't remember him making a single save that you wouldn't expect a relatively talented high school keeper to make. Guardado has to get on the field more. Arguably Mexico's most consistent contributer since 2006 has played less than half an hour in the first two games. I don't know if the nicks from the La Liga campaign are still with him, or Aguirre's saving his legs, if he thinks the team is better without him on the field, or if just doesn't want him to affect the team with his Deportivo la Coruña stink, but the fact that Guardado hasn't made more of an impact is really surprising.

As far as Mexico eventually contending, the best argument isn't that France represents a huge hump, but the age: the offensive core of this team (which shares some players with the 2005 U17 World Cup champs) is very young. Vela and Giovani are 21, Chicharito is 22, Guardado is 23, Barrera is 22. The team's average age is 27, which is in the middle of the World Cup pack, but Blanco (who's 93) drags the mean northward.

Lastly, Lesley Téllez has some photos of people celebrating from the streets in Mexico City


Lesley said...

Hey, thanks for the shout-out. It was actually even crazier than what you see in the pictures... lots of people had cans of white foam that drenched everyone's hair and clothes. Kept my camera in my bag around all them.

pc said...

No problem...that sounds about like how it was when Santos won the league title three years ago, although with quite a bit less people.