Thursday, June 17, 2010
Game 20: France vs Mexico
Today, Mexico took on France, and re-wrote history as they routed les Bleus 2-0 to come within a whisker of reaching the knockout stages.
With the defeat of France, Mexico snapped some interesting losing streaks. For one, the country has never beaten France; two, until today Mexico had never defeated a country that has won the World Cup. Sure, those facts may only interest the statistic snobs, but it does show growth for Mexican football, demonstrating how they can take on the world's elite teams.
When Javier Hernandez came on as a substitute to score Mexico's first goal in the 64th minute, by beating the off-sides trap to stage a one-on-one with Hugo Lloris, he became the second person in his family to score against France, after his Grandfather had done it previously. The second goal from Blanco, scored in the 79th minute on a penalty, is also important because in doing so he became the third oldest player to have ever scored in the World Cup finals, at the ripe young age of thirty-seven.
And finally, the most important record setter, Mexico's win over France has essentially kicked hosts South Africa out of the tournament, when previously a host nation has never failed to make it out of the group stage. The reason I said Mexico did this, instead of Uruguay, is because South Africa does still have an extreme outside shot of qualifying, provided they beat France. However, now France has to really lay the 'smack-down' on the hosts to have any chance of qualifying, and when France get cornered, they often deliver, in some form or another (*ahem*, playoff against Ireland).
Mexico now go into their final game against Uruguay only needing a draw to qualify for the second round. With Argentina knocking on the door, and a tie meaning Mexico draws the South Americans, I expect the Mexicans to come out firing on all cylinders in an effort to win, and therefore draw one of the weaker teams from Group B (see: South Korea or Greece).
All in all, Mexico played spectacular football today. The link up play was spectacular, the attackers ran at the defenders, the defenders held off the attackers, you name it and Mexico did it; well, they could have finished their shooting more, but that is the story of this World Cup and a tale for another time.
I actually am terrified of Mexico's future team, with the likes of Dos Santos, Chicharito, and co., Mexico have a solid platform to build for the future. So whether win or lose in the next stage, I expect good things to come from my southern neighbor.
Did I mention Mexican fans are the best?