Mexico: 5 Things Going Wrong with El Tri
Mexico's national team has had one of the toughest years in history. For the first time ever, El Tri has not won a single game at the Azteca Stadium in a Hexagonal, plus Panama eliminated them from the Gold Cup in the semifinals.
It is clear that adjustments are in order. Some say it is Jose Manuel de la Torre's fault, others prefer to point to the players.
The truth is that the crisis is the result of a mix of things that have made a ticking bomb out of this team.
Let's find out which are those issues.
El Tri lacks a playmaker, and that is hurting the squad more than ever. Giovani dos Santos could take over that position and distribute the ball. He is fast and unbalancing.
Mexico tries to finish every play with a cross from the sidelines. The team has good long-distance shooters and they hardly ever take their chances.
It would not hurt to work in some risky set pieces. These usually surprise the opposition and help the team with the strategy.
Joel Huiqui is not one of the brightest defenders in Mexican football AND all of a sudden he was capped for the Gold Cup and wore the captain's armband.
Javier Rodriguez is not at the same level he was when he played for PSV and Stuttgart.
There is a great generation of defenders waiting for a chance to prove themselves. Hiram Mier and Diego Reyes have debuted with the first team, however, they don't start every game.
Brazil and Italy left out into the open the difficulties Mexico have in this line. Panama did the same with the help of Alberto Quintero, Blas Perez and Gabriel Torres. There was not a single defender that could stop those three.
Jose Manuel de la Torre has failed in two commitments: the Confederations Cup and the Gold Cup.
Back in January, Chepo and Hector Gonzalez Iñarritu, the National Teams Director, said in a press conference that Mexico was in good shape and that the goal was winning the Gold Cup and reaching the final stage of the Confederations Cup.
Both tournaments were a shame for El Tri. The performance in Brazil was far from spectacular; even Carlos Salcido acknowledged via CNN Mexico that the squad was afraid.
Then came the Gold Cup. A different set of players, but the story was basically the same. Mexico left the competition after losing 2-1 to Panama.
According to MedioTiempo, despite the failure, de la Torre assured after the game against Los Canaleros that these things happen and that the main goal is to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
His job may not be safe after all. According to Goal.com, his future will be decided on Monday.
Mexico has to understand that some of the CONCACAF teams are no longer made up of people that have touched the ball a couple of times in their lives.
Miguel Layun put it right after the quarterfinals match against Trinidad and Tobago via MedioTiempo:
"The thrashings are very difficult, is not the same as it was ten years ago, where players were fishermen or carpenters."
On the other hand, there are some squads, like Martinique, that are still at the bottom of the chain and defeating them should be a responsibility, which also includes showing Mexico’s superiority.
The way Miguel Ponce celebrated his goal against the Caribbeans was too much. In all fairness, the rival was not Brazil and the play was not one of the best we have seen.
There are times when El Tri seems overconfident, pushing its luck too far; in others, the squad is not comfortable, and overall the group is ineffective.
Mexico plays it safe and hardly ever changes its strategy. The wingers run through the sidelines, then they cross or cut in, just after that the strikers try to control the ball to have a chance to score.
Mexico has no rhythm or depth, which results in a very predictable and steady squad.
Also, they do not have the clarity to finish a play. Mexico had 58% of ball possession against Panama, attempted 24 shots, but only five of them were on goal.