With Uruguay’s 3-0 massacre of South Africa yesterday, today’s match between Mexico (FIFA World Ranking 17) and France (9) becomes a must-win for both teams.
Uruguay is at the top of Group A with four points, while the other three countries all have one point. Both Mexico and France need a win today to stay on pace with Uruguay.
Especially for El Tri. The Mexican’s next opponent will be a talented Uruguay who finally has their offense going.
France desperately needs to get three points from the match today, but they do have a card up their sleeve. Les Bleus still have to play South Africa.
Both teams need a win in this match. The two squads are full of “Big Club” talent. Who has the advantage? Let’s take a look at the matchups.
Mexican head coach Javier Aguirre turned some heads when he named Oscar Perez his starting goalie over Guillermo Ochoa. The 37-year-old Perez has more experience than the 24-year-old Ochoa, but the move was surprising nonetheless.
Perez did have a solid game between the pipes. There was nothing the keeper could have done to prevent Siphiwe Tshabalala’s goal that sent the entire continent of Africa into a frenzy. The rest of the game he was spot-on.
France’s Hugo Lloris is one of the best young keepers in the world. At 23 years old he is already the starting goalie for French powerhouse Olympique Lyonnais. He is also the two-time winner and reigning Ligue 1 “Goalkeeper of the Year."
On paper this may be the biggest mismatch of the matchups.
France’s starting back line against Uruguay plays for the following clubs: William Gallas (Arsenal), Eric Abidal (Barcelona), Patrice Evra (Manchester United), and Bacary Sagna (Arsenal).
These players have all played in big games and will be the strength for France from here on out.
Yet Mexico’s back four are no slouches. Several of their defenders play in Europe or top Mexican clubs.
But, overall, this is a lopsided contest.
France is still waiting for the second coming of Zinedine Zidane and unfortunately they will be waiting awhile. Les Bleus midfield just hasn’t been the same since Zidane’s departure from international competition.
However, France does have some young midfielders to be excited about. Yoann Gourcuff (23) and Jeremy Toulalan (26) have been tearing it up in the French League and are looking to do the same for the national team.
Also, Franck Ribery remains one of the best attacking players in this World Cup. “Scarface” will need to get more touches against Mexico than he did against Uruguay to get the French attack moving.
Barcelona man Rafael Marquez is the leader in the Mexican midfield and scored El Tri’s only goal in the opener. But Marquez cannot win this game by himself.
Players like Gerardo Torrado and Andres Guardado need to help control the ball in the middle. Mexico has always been known for their attacking style.
If they don’t have possession in the midfield, it will be awfully hard to get their offense going.
Both teams are loaded at the forward position. France started Nicolas Anelka and Sidney Govou in the opener and brought Andre-Pierre Gignac, Thierry Henry, and Florent Malouda off the bench.
Even though France has all those weapons at their disposal, they failed to score in the opener and have struggled to find goals. Thierry Henry in particular has drawn criticism with his play on the pitch and will need to step up.
Just like France, Mexico has a full arsenal of weapons. Guilermo Franco, Giovani dos Santos, Carlos Vela, Javier Hernandez, and the ageless Cuauhtemoc Blanco.
Out of all these offensive threats, the two players that are the most vital to Mexican success are dos Santos and Hernandez. The 21 and 22-year-olds, respectively, have great pace and the ability to take over the game with one touch.
France should have the advantage, but their recent struggle in form is not promising. Once again France may need a handball to get on the scoreboard.
The French hate Raymond Domenech.
How much do they hate him?
His successor has already been named (Laurent Blanc) and will take control of the team after this World Cup.
Javier Aguirre took over El Tri after Sven-Goran Eriksson’s miserable campaign as manager and has turned this team around.
Aguirre has Mexico playing its best soccer in decades and has dealt well with the veterans and youngsters on the team.
Despite France (FIFA World Ranking 9) being the favorite against (Mexico 17) El Tri will be celebrating after 90 minutes.
Mexico 2-1 over France.