SANTA CLARA, California. Within 45 minutes everything was almost perfect. At the same time, everything collapsed.
Whatever good Mexico had done in the first half against Colombia on Tuesday, in what was arguably their best football performance in a long time, was completely erased when they succumbed to a two-goal lead to end up losing 3-2 at the Stadio Levi.
Matches hosting World Cup matches are supposed to do two things: create buzz and instill confidence in the players about what lies ahead. It seemed Three checked all those boxes until Colombia made a half-time substitution that completely changed the dynamics of the game. Instead of a celebratory evening, it was more of the same for the Mexican fans, who became wary of what their team could, or rather couldn’t, do.
With 53 days left until the World Cup, and after this last couple of games, Mexico is facing recurring problems that are in doubt. Sure, they beat Peru 1-0 at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, but even that was an underwhelming performance when Hirving Lozano scored in the 85th minute. Otherwise, there was nothing to take away from that game other than what we already knew: Mexico lacks creativity in the last third and is struggling to score.
On Tuesday in the Bay Area, the first half was the complete opposite. Mexico looked aggressive, making direct runs into the box and provoking an attack. Defensively, they have choked world-class players like Liverpool’s Luis Diaz and Juventus’ Juan Cuadrado. This was the game Gerardo “Tata” Martino needed to tell everyone to relax.
But it was short-lived as Colombian substitute Luis Sinisterra started the half with an early goal and equalized 3 minutes later. Wilmar Barrios scored the winning goal with a sensational volley from outside the penalty area in the 68th minute.
“When the opposition number 9 is playing for Eintracht Frankfurt, their winger for Liverpool and full-back for Juventus, obviously there will come a point in the game where they impose their level,” Martineau said. “These are the moments when we have to keep our composure, order and not make mistakes.”
On paper, Mexico bound for Qatar lost to a team that would not compete in the World Cup. Very good at it, but it’s not a focus for Three.
It’s about trying to find the balance they’ve been looking for for too long. And as time went by tournaments lost (particularly to rival USA), Mexico didn’t seem to improve enough in regards to World Cup contention. A lot of this, fair or not, falls on Martino. Relations soured, and this loss added another element to them.
After Saturday’s victory over Peru, Tata smiled and even joked at the post-match press conference. Tuesday’s tone was very different, argumentative and irritated, throwing not-so-subliminal messages at former Mexican players turned into media that constantly criticize. He also touched on problems with the structure in Liga MX and how it affects the pool and the players of the national team. Despite the fact that these are valid arguments, Martino tries to vent his many annoyances at every opportunity. On Saturday, he said he was happy and motivated for what lies ahead, but it’s far from what fans think.
This undeniable friction reaches a critical point.
“When a team doesn’t win, the external perception is completely different,” Martineau said.
Tata can poke the media all he wants, and he’s been doing it for a while now, but the only way to change the narrative is to win. He angrily snapped at a reporter when asked about striker Henry Martin, stating that the media was caught up in judging the No. 9 solely on goals scored.
This, of course, is one of the main problems associated with Three.
Much of this outside noise he refers to was due to his unwillingness to consider Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez, Mexico’s all-time leading scorer, as an option for this squad. It’s clear the ship has sailed despite Hernandez scoring 10 goals in his last 10 games for the LA Galaxy, including a brace against the San Jose Earthquakes just a few hundred miles north of the Rose Bowl, while while the Mexican attack looked stagnant in this victory over Peru. .
Will Chicharito win? Three this is now a moot point, but how Tata reacted to this situation, among other things, continues to add fuel to this fire.
Mexico has two exhibition matches left (Sweden and Iraq) before the opening of the World Cup on November 22 against Poland. For the most part, the list is pretty definitive. Last-minute decisions will be made on injured stars Raul Jimenez and Jesús “Tecatito” Corona, both vital figures who could give this team the boost they need if they make the roster, though the outlook doesn’t look bright.
Despite this, Martino is leading the team in Qatar in hopes of achieving this.”fifth gamethat haunted Mexico for far too long. This would mean reaching the quarter-finals for the first time since 1986. Since then, they have been knocked out in the round of 16 at seven consecutive World Cups.
But first they need to worry about Poland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia before they think about anything else. The results of these games, good or bad, will be sorted out, as they usually are, and Martino will probably receive most of the criticism.
Meanwhile, Mexican fans continue to have a “whatever happens will happen” mentality about the World Cup because they already know, in a sense, the fate of their team, both in the tournament and in the future.
Time is running out and the noise of Fuera Tata is only getting louder.