Early defensive errors sink Mexico against Germany

A day after Chile beat Portugal on penalties, many Mexican fans were hoping Mexico could pull an upset and face Chile in the  Confederations Cup final. However, their hopes were quickly dashed.

Inside ten minutes Mexico found themselves down 2-0. Any hope of reaching the final was put to bed via a Leon Goretzka brace. Mexico were able to level things off and produce a few scoring chances of their own but they entered halftime trailing by two.

The second-half mirrored the start of the game. Germany completely overran Mexico as Timo Werner capped off a nice play to put his team up 3-0.

Mexico’s lone bright spot came when substitute, Marco Fabian, scored an incredible goal off a free-kick. There wasn’t much that Ter Stegen could do to keep it out.  But it was too little, too late.

Germany would get that goal back two minutes later via Amin Youness. The final whistle blew and Germany advanced to the final beating Mexico 4-1.

The aftermath of the game has not been kind to Mexico coach, Juan Carlos Osorio. He has been heavily criticized for not sending out his best squad and playing players out of position. All valid criticisms.

Let’s start with the one where he’s accused of not fielding his best team. The main contention is that Osorio decided to not play Carlos Vela who, behind Jonathan Dos Santos, has been Mexico’s best player throughout the tournament. Osorio chose to play Raul Jimenez on the right instead.

Osorio justified Vela’s absence by saying that Raul Jimenez was better suited to handle the physical wear of playing as a winger. Suffice to say, this explanation was not good enough for the Mexican media.

Another tinker to the line-up was playing Javier Aquino over Hirving Lozano. Aquino had a good game against New Zealand but that had more to do with the fact that he was going up against an 18-year old. The same actions that proved useful in that game were nullified by a more experienced German side. Lozano, on the other hand, played well against Russia. Though he was brought on in the second-half, he was deployed on the left, where he is not as influential, and had minimal impact.

Perhaps the biggest question was the inclusion of Giovani Dos Santos in the starting line-up. Gio started the game against New Zealand and did not look good at all. He looked slow and his crosses failed to connect with any of his teammates. Many were speculating if he was going to play again at all. His inclusion in the midfield in place of the suspended Andres Guardado did more harm than good.

Germany absolutely bossed Mexico’s midfield. If Osorio’s plan was to go toe-to-toe with Germany, he’d have been much better served with starting Marco Fabian. As it stood, he was brought on as a sub with Mexico already down 3-0. He scored the lone goal and overall looked dangerous in the few minutes he did play.

This brings us to Osorio’s deploying his players out of position. The most glaring example is using center-backs to play fullbacks. Whether it be Carlos Salcedo or Diego Reyes on the right or Oswaldo Alanis on the left, Osorio seems adverse to playing or even calling up natural fullbacks.

Personally, it’s the one aspect that confounds me. In an age where fullbacks have become integral to the success of a team, whether club or country, his insistence to play centre-backs simply because of their height is astounding. We saw countless times throughout the tournament teams attacking Mexico through the flanks, successfully, because the center-backs were not used to that position.

If we look as his squad selection, the only natural fullback he selected was Miguel Layun. If we look deeper, we also see that he did not call up a defensive midfielder. He could argue he did with Rafael Marquez. The fact of the matter is that Marquez hardly played at all and he was brought on against Germany when Mexico was already down by two.

While Osorio has a very good record with Mexico,registering only three losses, two of those losses have come in knockout competition with embarrassing scorelines. A 7-0 loss against Chile in the Copa America Centenario and the 4-1 loss to Germany in the Confederations Cup. A total of 1 goal in scored and 11 conceded.

Osorio has proven that when it comes down to crunch time in the big games. His tactics and the display of his team leaves much to be desired.

It would be unfair to claim that Mexico should have beaten Germany. Despite what players said, I did not believe that Mexico were going to win. Despite the fact that it was Germany’s “B-team,” Germany is still Germany. All I was looking for was for Mexico to be competitive and show that they could play against the best teams in the world. However, right off the bat, the team crumbled.

I also do not agree that Osorio should be fired. He does have a lot to account for and explain but that will be to the Mexico’s FA.

We are a year away from the World Cup and Osorio has a lot of work to do. If Mexico hope to advance to the mythical fifth game, they’ll need to beat a giant of the game. Unfortunately, it’ll be only then until we know whether or not Juan Carlos Osorio learned from his mistakes.

 

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