Mexico’s 1-0 loss to suddenly sizzling Uruguay at the World Cup didn’t end El Tri’s trip to South Africa, but standing in the way of their advancement in the tournament now is mighty Argentina.
Uruguay won Group A, and thanks to South Africa’s win over France by only a 2-1 score, Mexico squeaked into the elimination round as the No. 2 team from Group A.
That team plays the first-place team from Group B, which will be Argentina, on Sunday. The two-time world champions are a formidable squad led by young striker Lionel Messi, regarded as the world’s best player.
This was not the ideal situation for Mexico. Had it won the group, it would have played a good but lower-caliber opponent in the Korea Republic, a game Mexico would have had better odds of winning. Now the Mexicans have to beat Messi and a whole host of scoring threats just to get to the quarterfinals.
Mexico’s coach, Javier Aguirre, and players said they were going for the win. They had to be certainly cognizant that Argentina loomed ahead, because Argentina knocked Mexico out of the 2006 "mundial" with a 2-1 win in Germany. So the rematch is at hand.
Aguirre said his team looked tense, but Mexico got close to scoring several times. A shot by Andres Guardado in the 22nd minute hit the top of the goal and bounced away.
Aguirre had been making good moves as far as his lineup and substitutions, but he did not have the injured Carlos Vela to start at striker and Efrain Juarez was unable to play because of a red card suspension. That appeared to have an effect, as Cuauhtemoc Blanco, usually a sub late in the game, and Guille Franco, who was largely ineffective, got the call up front.
Just a bad day at work for Mexico, too many balls given away with faulty clearances and mistakes, and the price is a date with Argentina. Which just screams elimination, unless Mexico does everything right.
Consensus from Mexican fans I've heard from: Bring on Argentina, we owe them! False bravado if you ask me. Love the spirit, but there isn't much confidence behind it.