Nine years after Mexico won their first gold in men’s football, El Tri seems to have what it takes to make another run to the top of the Olympic podium. The Mexican team showed they are ready to fight, opening their 2021 Olympic tournament with a convincing 4-1 victory over France, one of the pre-tournament favorites.
The Mexicans were better than France in all areas of the pitch and this was reflected in the score thanks to four goals in the second half by four different scorers: Alexis Vega, Sebastian Cordova, Uriel Antuna and Eduardo Aguirre.
“We are a talented team,” said goalkeeper and captain Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, “players with a lot of quality, with a thirst to win, to shine and to transcend. Combine that with players who have played for the senior national team, and it shows when you have to make decisions in a game like this – a tackle, a pass or a shot. And today we did really well. “
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There was very little to dislike about Mexico’s performance, which showed few weaknesses and illustrated all the reasons they will fight for the Olympic title again:
Gamebreakers in green
France may have had the big name on the pitch with striker André-Pierre Gignac, but the Mexican forwards were the ones who always seemed to be able to decide the game. And all of them did.
Vega on the left and compatriot Diego Lainez on the right were electric with the ball at their feet, taking on defenders one-on-one and going straight to the goal. And every time they went to the French defense, they wreaked havoc. With teammate Henry Martin dutifully filling the role of center-forward, Vega and Lainez had a willing partner who occupied defenders and opened up space for them.
Vega looks in the best shape of his career, and when he’s playing with the kind of fire he’s shown against France, he’s hard to contain. Meanwhile, Lainez was the brightest player on the pitch and created the first goal on one of his many points of penetration into the box. His sleek reduction center served up an inviting ball as Vega burst into the box to get home.
If you include attacking midfielder Cordova in this attacking mix – he showed his football IQ on his well-scored goal in the box – it’s easy to see why all of these players are already part of the Mexican national team setup. senior under the guidance of head coach Gerardo “El Tata” Martino.
Mexico is deep
You know things really click when two players come off the bench and score as well. Mexico’s Olympic coach Jaime Lozano was rewarded for his decision to bring in offensive reinforcements despite his lead. Right winger Antuna (72nd minute) and center forward Eduardo Aguirre (88th minute) arrived and they helped close the deal.
Antuna’s speed will be a real weapon on the bench in this tournament. He put it to good use on Mexico’s third goal when he replaced Lainez. He supported his defender first, then cut inside before firing a low shot and pushed back from the post. He came with 10 minutes remaining and helped put the game out of France’s reach.
And Aguirre is a less experienced version of Henry Martin, arguably with a better nose for goal. He showed it on his strike, Mexico’s fourth, sending the ball from a tight angle past the goalkeeper at the near post. Expect him to start in one of the group matches to give Martin a break before the knockout round of 16.
No weak link in defense either
If it wasn’t enough that Mexico had the best offensive talent on the pitch, the players at the back row also eclipsed their opponents.
Right-back Jorge Sanchez is a multi-million dollar transfer material that combines reach, strength and speed. France rarely bothered to attack on its flank.
While it certainly helped that they played against Gignac in Mexico’s La Liga MX, center-backs – Cesar “Cachorro” Montes and Johan Vasquez – were in control. The only real misstep was Montes’ error in judgment on the tackle slipped into his own area which led to France’s goal from the penalty spot.
Romo is the glue guy
His name does not appear in the scoring area this time, but central midfielder Luis Romo is the most important player of this Mexican team. La Liga club Getafe was making a transfer push for him, but his Mexican club Cruz Azul would have rejected him and they might be able to secure new bidders if there is a deep Olympic run in store for Mexico.
Romo is apparently all over the pitch, and that’s because he has such a good sense of the game. He brings balance to his team, supporting the attack or protecting the back line, and whatever he wants. chooses is usually the right decision. In addition, he runs for two players, which makes him a massive presence on the pitch.
Mexico is a well-oiled machine
The players know each other well, in part thanks to previous camps under Mexican senior manager Tata Martino. This familiarity was evident against France, a team that was only made up for this tournament and will never play together again.
Mexico was the cohesive side and it showed in their passage and how they moved away, especially in transition. All the players have clear roles and they play them well. For example, left-back Erick Aguirre was a home defender and didn’t stretch too far on the attacking side, especially with Sanchez marauding on the right. And it worked really well.
This spirit was most evident in the moments after their goals, when the Mexicans sent a message to France that they would not let them come back in the game: El Tri hit the ball with personality, keeping it in. gap of the French. It was a flexible gesture from a team aware that it is good.
Mexico looks like a whole squad – they can score, they can defend and they can manage and control games. Outside of Brazil, there doesn’t seem to be another nation they should be afraid of for the rest of the way, especially the way El Tri has handled France.