Takeaways From Mexico-Portugal Friendly

Positives For Mexico Despite Loss To Portugal

Photo Courtesy of the Official Seleccion Nacional de Mexico Facebook Page

Going into their fourth and final pre-World Cup friendly, Mexico needed a much better performance against Portugal in order to give their legions of fans a good feeling about the team a week out from its 2014 World Cup opener against Cameroon and in order for them as a team to feel good prior to the start of the tournament.

While Mexico ended up losing 1-0 to Portugal on a second half stoppage time goal from defender Bruno Alves, Mexico gave a much better display and account of themselves during this game. It was the type of display which gives credence to the saying that the final result in a friendly game, especially the last one prior to the World Cup is second fiddle to the team’s play during the game. As Mexico get ready to depart for Brazil on Saturday, here are some takeaways from what was a fine final dress rehearsal for ‘El Tri’.

No Injuries Sustained

Given the rash of key players getting injured here in the last week and as a result meaning they will be missing the World Cup, the last thing Mexico needed was an injury. After all, they lost Luis Montes last Saturday to such a major injury. Therefore the fact that none of the Mexican players sustained and injury in the game against Portugal is a big positive.
Jesus Corona Shows No Ill Effects

Goalkeeper Jesus Corona got the start for Mexico against Portugal in what would serve not only as a chance for him to potentially win the starting goalkeeper position but to show he was fully recovered from the head injury he sustained against Israel two weeks ago. In the 45 minutes which he played (this was the plan all along), Corona showed no ill effects and just as importantly, no hesitation in going out to challenge and snatch the ball out of the air on crosses.

A (Pleasant) Dilemma In Goal

While Jesus Corona played well, Guillermo Ochoa was also just as good in the game against Portugal. While the goal conceded was with him in goal, no goalkeeper could have been able to made the save on the Bruno Alves goal. As a result of both Corona and Ochoa having fine outings on Friday evening, coach Miguel Herrera will have a selection headache as to whom he will pick to start against Cameroon next Friday. In this regard, it is not a bad thing as whomever he picks, will inspire confidence.
Demonstration of Tactical Understanding

Against Bosnia on Tuesday, Mexico for the vast majority of the game played like a team who was unsure of what was expected out of them from a tactical standpoint aside from the basics. Against Portugal on Friday evening, Mexico from the beginning of the game played like a team who had a clear idea of what to do from the tactical standpoint and then carried that into the second half when it generated the majority and the clearest scoring chances.

Hector Herrera Continues To Shine

Ever since he was moved over to right side of the midfield in the game against Ecuador, Hector Herrera has been the best Mexican National Team player in the three U.S. friendlies played by ‘El Tri’. Against Portugal, Hector Herrera was once again the best player for Mexico as his play down the right side allowed Mexico to generate several scoring chances, especially in the second half, while also doing a good job defensively winning back possession. If there was still doubt as to whether or not Hector Herrera would start next week, he once again showed he has one his worth here in the last week.

Andres Guardado Making A Late Push

At the beginning of Mexico’s four pre-World Cup friendlies, the best and most logical role for midfielder Andres Guardado was that he would be a bench player backing up Carlos Peña. Over the case of the last two weeks and four friendlies, it appears that Andres Guardado has potentially played his way into the starting eleven come next Friday as he played a very solid game on Friday evening while forming a rapport with Hector Herrera and Juan Jose Vasquez during the game.

Javier Hernandez Also A Starter?

Against Portugal, Javier Hernandez came on as a substitute to replace Giovani Dos Santos for the final 30 minutes of the game. In those final 30 minutes, ‘Chicharito’ played exceptionally well as he set up a great scoring chance wasted by Alan Pulido while also forcing Portuguese defenders to commit several fouls because he beat them with his first touch. His performance will surely make many think he could start upfront come next Friday.

Too Many Wasted Crosses

As was pointed out by Mexican commentator Raul Orvanaños, both wing backs, Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar delivered alot of crosses during the first half. And aside from maybe one, none of those crosses where effective or created a scoring chance. Both Layun and Aguilar showed an ability to penetrate into the final third against Portugal and with that in mind, if they are able to not always think cross first like they did Friday night, they will be able to create more dangerous scoring chances.

Need To Convert Scoring Chances

In the second half against Portugal, Mexico created a number of scoring chances with the best one being a missed chance from Alan Pulido at the 88th minute. While it was good to see Mexico create as many scoring chances as they did, the fact is that they need to realize that wasting too many of those scoring opportunities you create can come back to bite you in the you know what.

Set Piece Goals A Killer (Again)

One of the constants of any Mexican National Team for the past 20 years, if not longer has been the fact that the team has been vulnerable to giving up goals while defending set pieces (corner kicks, free kicks). Whether it be for a lack of concentration, a player who was suppose to be marking Bruno Alves letting get free, Mexico once again gave up a set piece goal against Portugal. Again, this needs to be worked on because for the love of god, Mexicans like myself can no longer take and deal with this for much longer. It is the nightmare we can’t escape.

Good Vibes Headed To Brazil

Independent of the fact that the final score against Portugal says that Mexico lost the game, the fact is that the team can head to Brazil feeling good about itself. Against Portugal, they laid the foundations for what can be a good run in the World Cup by learning and refining what they did well while working on and correcting where they failed. On Friday evening, the looked like a team who knew what to do, now to for them to replicate that come next June 13.

Lucas Carreras is a contributing Mexican National Team and Liga MX writer for Stoppage Time Soccer. You can follow Lucas on Twitter by following him @maldini3fan.


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