Costa Rica vs. Mexico: El Tri Must Fix Defense to Improve World Cup Chances
Mexico has won both of its qualifying matches for the 2014 World Cup, but there is still plenty to work on if the team wants to be successful in the rest of the tournament.
El Tri has two upcoming matches against Costa Rica in the next week. In this third round of qualifying, these matches could be the difference in advancing to the next round. As FIFA's No. 1-ranked team in CONCACAF, and No. 22 overall, the team should not have too much trouble.
However, the upcoming games provide Mexico with a great opportunity to fix some problems that have been lingering over the past few months.
For example, the defense has been incredibly sloppy in recent games. Mexico was unable to get a clean sheet in the two World Cup qualifying games despite facing inferior teams in Guyana and El Salvador. In the match against Guyana, defender Hector Moreno had an own goal. The game was well in hand at the time, but this is the type of mistake they cannot afford to make.
The team saw what can happen with sloppy play against a talented team when it lost to the United States 1-0. A dribbler through the defense for Michael Orozco to finish was the only goal in the game.
Against weaker opponents, the talented forwards led by Javier Hernandez can score enough to overcome mistakes by the back line. When facing the U.S., it equaled the game winner.
There have been good defensive games lately. Mexico held Brazil off the board in a 2-0 victory in an international friendly in June. The midfield was able to keep Neymar and Hulk in check while Francisco Rodriguez and Severo Meza did their jobs on defense.
In addition, the younger players did lead Mexico to a gold medal in the Olympics. Some players like Hiram Mier could step up and perform on the senior team to give them a boost.
The talent is there, but this is a team issue. The defenders have great athleticism and Jose de Jesus Corona is a very experienced keeper. However, they need to maintain focus throughout the entire 90 minutes of the match.
In the upcoming fixtures it might not matter much, but it will if El Tri wants to compete with the top teams at the World Cup. At that stage, there will not be any chances to make up the goals they allow.
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