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Posted by Fernando Casarez on 06/17/2010

I woke up today with a positive thought “Mexico will get a good result tonight, everything is ready for an historic night against France.” Yesterday Uruguay won, so today a victory would be a great step into the next round. This is the story of how the day has come from that early thought to what we saw at Polokwane.

Tonight Mexico once again played well but the change the team needed was on the bench, Chicharito Hernández a man I wanted to see in the starting eleven in the place of Guille Franco was the man who broke the lock. Then a half foul-half dive resulted in a penalty kick that was perfectly converted by Cuauhtémoc Blanco and El Tri has now great chances of getting into the next round for the fifth World Cup in a row.

But let’s start from the beginning, the goals at the World Cup finally arrived, yesterday Uruguay got three against the Bafana Bafana (the second was a penalty, but before that was an offside of Luis Suárez). Anyway, today eight more goals in two games, Argentina crushed South Korea 4-1, while Greece scored their first ever WC goal after a game changing red card to beat Nigeria 2-1. So far so good I thought.

Then the big game was finally here at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane, Mexicans and French played their second match at South Africa. It’s funny, in Mexico there was not too much confidence in a victory, seeing France as a great team. While in France, seeing and hearing some French today and watching the game next to one, they didn’t look too confident either about their squad.

Even some parts of the Mexican media said that the team should be packing already, but as I wrote before, France has great players but not a great team, and their lack of goals is worse than the Mexican offensive problem.

Looking at the lineups, the changes from the last game for Mexico were Héctor Moreno taking the place of Paul Aguilar and Rafa Márquez becoming once again the captain. Andrés Guardado stayed on the bench and once again Óscar Pérez was on the starting eleven. On the rival, France had Malouda in the place of Gourcuff.

The game started with Mexico attacking as it was promised by Aguirre, the first Mexican shot came from Giovani dos Santos who hit the post at the second minute, later on Vela was selfish and instead of giving the ball to Gio or Franco that were all alone made a shot over the post.

The bad thing of the match came at the half hour mark, when Carlos Vela had an injury and needed to be replaced by Barrera. The Arsenal striker won’t play against Uruguay, so Javier Hernández should be the one to take his place.

The French didn’t create much danger but still had more possession of the ball, avoiding Mexico to establish their rhythm. At the half even with just a few chances from both sides, the game was dynamic.

Then in the second half Mexico started with too much strength, in a bad way, two yellow cards in the first five minutes, fresh ideas were needed and Chicharito Hernández and later Cuauhtémoc Blanco got into the game. A couple of minutes in and the game changed, Rafa Márquez made a perfect pass to Chicharito. The French claimed it was an offside, but the new Man. United player was in good position and won a faceoff with Hugo Lloris to score the first Mexican goal and the number 2,100 in WC history. His grandfather Tomás Balcázar also scored against France back in 1954 in a 3-2 French victory in the WC in Switzerland.

El Tri took control of the game and the French had no clear chances. At the 78th minute, Pablo Barrera was fouled inside the box after a clumsy Abidal tackle, the Barcelona player did touch the Mexican player, but he also helped with a dive that end up with a penalty called by referee Khalil Al Ghamdi from Saudi Arabia. To be fair the man in black didn’t have a very good performance overall.

Veteran star Cuauhtémoc Blanco scored, and the joy in the stadium and the whole country was at its highest point, Mexico won, Mexico defeated France, Mexico was better than the current World Cup runners-up. Tonight in Polokwane Mexico made history beating France 2-0.

Now is the moment to celebrate, because back home, just a few people really believed the team could win, maybe a draw would have been a good result, but beating a former WC Champion at this level is a Mexican first. The Country will have a great party tonight, El Ángel de la Independencia and many important squares all over the nation will be packed with fans celebrating and they deserved it. Since 80 years were needed to get a victory against a team with a big name and a world title in the biggest stage there is.

But after all the party, for the team and all the people let me say... wait!!!! Yeah sure, Mexico defeated France, but let’s not forget El Tri has one more game to play and the team is not mathematically in the second round.

On Tuesday Aguirre’s side face Uruguay, a team El Tri has faced 17 times before, with 7 Mexican victories for only 3 of the Charrúas. Five of those matches came in an official competition with two Mexican victories and two draws. Last game between this two was a 3-1 win for El Tri in the 3rd Place Match at the 2007 Copa América. But still Uruguay has won two cups and are ahead on the goal average.

Next game it will be needed another win to clinch the first place of the group and avoid Argentina in the next round, a tie will give Mexico the ticket to the next phase but as runner up, and once again Argentina would be the rival as it was in the last Copa América, Confederations Cup and World Cup, all three times La Albiceleste was victorious.

But with the victory over Les Bleus, even a defeat facing the Uruguayans could give a place into the last 16 if France and South Africa draw or depending the goal average, but that shouldn’t be an option, history can be made in South Africa and a victory should be the result to achieved in five days.

About the team El Chicharito showed he’s up to play from the start, and with Vela’s injury he should be playing, El Cuau was important and he’s a great boost of energy and good football from the bench. Torrado, Juárez, Barrera, Márquez and Salcido did a great job, being the PSV backwing a great element both attacking and defending, while Giovani was again phenomenal directing the midfield. About the goalkeeper I’m not convinced yet with El Conejo, but today he stopped the few shots made by the French and surely he’ll be the one picked to face Uruguay. Aguirre is doing a good job, today was a happy day for the nation, for Mexican football and every football fan out there should be a little bit more happy and proud to scream out loud VIVA MÉXICO!!!

Next Tuesday
Mexico vs. Uruguay
4 PM Local Time – 9 AM Mexican Time
Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg

Thank you for all your comments, it's a pleasure to receive feedback from everywhere out there I look forward for you to keep following the blog during the World Cup


Posted by Mark Onyango Ojuok on 06/18/2010

France were woeful to say the least, a bunch of overpaid, egocentric footballers with a clueless coach, they need a fresh start and hopefully Blanc will provide that

Posted by Ezra on 06/18/2010

Yeah, France was a definate let-down.

I really liked Barrera's performance, though. A step higher than that of Vela. A very good decision from Aguirre.
All of his decisions in the end paid off, with glorious results.
All that's left to say is "Good show, Mexico. Good show indeed."

Posted by seegee on 06/20/2010

to tell you the truth, i am happy that vela is injured. that man is a selfish player, as you said. it's been many times in the games he should've passed the ball, but instead he either forced to dribble or made a speculative shot.

bravo for hernandez, he's very fast. hope to see his goal against uruguay. blanco is very slow, but indeed, he's very creative. as long as he doesn't have to run, he still can spark.

bravo mexico!

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Fernando Casarez: Is a 24-year-old sports journalist who has covered World Cup 2006 and the Summer Olympics in 2004 and 2008. He has worked with three different radio stations at home in Mexico and studied for a Masters in Sports Journalism in Spain. He has also won three UEFA competitions to attend three Champions League finals

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