In an unfortunate turn of events, Mexico will be missing one of their most influential players in Saturday's gold-medal final against Brazil.
In a press conference Friday, Mexican coach Luis Fernando Tena confirmed that forward Giovani dos Santos would miss the match with a muscle injury. In the news conference, Tena said:
The injury is not that serious but it does not allow him to play. He is sad, he had dreams of playing in this game. His injury will take two weeks to heal. On Monday he will show up at his club and start his rehabilitation. He is at his best right now and nobody saw the injury coming.
The 23-year-old dos Santos has had an incredible tournament thus far, proving to be one of the most influential players in the tournament despite playing just one complete match.
In the first two group matches, the Tottenham forward started off the bench. He has been substituted in the other two, and he still had three goals and played an instrumental part in others.
In fact, before halftime of Mexico's semifinal with Japan, Gio had been on the pitch for every goal Mexico had scored at the tournament—a fact made all the more impressive considering he had missed over a quarter of the playing time.
Unfortunately, dos Santos seemed to injure his hamstring in Tuesday's semifinal with Japan, which resulted in his substitution at halftime.
Who will win the gold medal Saturday?
The loss is a big blow for Mexico, but it does not necessarily bury them against Brazil.
Mexico showed their ability to score goals without dos Santos in the second half of their match against Japan, as they scored two against a team who had not conceded in their first four matches of the tournament.
The team showed some great resolve and character in their run to this stage of the tournament. Speaking about the injury and his team in his news conference, Coach Tena said, "It is painful for [dos Santos] and the players but we are a strong team and can easily overcome adversity."
Brazil have shown some vulnerability in the back, conceding five goals to this point. The Brazilians' forte is attack, which dos Santos wouldn't have helped with.
The loss of Giovani dos Santos is a tough, but the gold-medal match should still be fantastic.
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