Ahead of the Round of 16 fixture at the Samara Arena between Brazil and Mexico, the main focus was on the former and how they would perform, due to the fact that the likes of Argentina, Portugal and Spain were eliminated from the competition over the last couple of days. Meanwhile, many were keeping an eye out on the latter, who are blessed with an energetic and fearless squad.
Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio had full faith in his team, keeping the same front three of Carlos Vela, Hirving Lozano and Javier Hernandez that started in the group stages. In midfield, Rafael Marquez started at the centre whilst Andres Guardado and Hector Herrera played alongside him.
Within the backline, Guillermo Ochoa continued to play between the goalposts with Jesus Gallardo, Carlos Salcedo, Hugo Ayala Castro and Edson Alvarez playing in front of him from left to right. The side were full of energy and experience from top to bottom, however, the individual quality and brilliance was not there at all as Tite’s Brazil remained on top of Mexico from start till the end.
During an eventful day in the hot and beautiful city of Samara, Mexico’s constant pressing high up the pitch and ability to counter-attack the opposition only lasted for the first half an hour of the game. In that time, Brazil showed how defensively solid and compact they can be against a team full of pace and energy, which is something that isn’t really mentioned enough about the side.
Though, Brazil took the game up a notch in the second half, as they started to increase the tempo and speed into their attacking build-up as well as their movements on the flanks. Six minutes in, Neymar gave his side the lead through a well worked one-two between the player himself and Willian, before the Paris Saint-Germain star slotted it past Ochoa into the back of the net.
Mexico piled the pressure on after conceding the goal, by bringing the likes of Jonathan Dos Santos and Raul Jimenez on from the bench. However, the fact that they only produced two shots on target throughout the match shows, how tight Brazil were in their own area of the pitch and that Mexico’s main attackers could not produce the individual brilliance that their supporters were hoping for.
With a few minutes left until the linesman had held up the board with how much time is added on, Brazil instantly doubled their lead and the Mexico players as well as their fans were quick to show how devastated and heartbroken they were from this outcome. Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino secured the side’s spot into the quarter-finals he latched on to a loose ball that was deflected off Ochoa.
Overall, Mexico were regarded as a team that would not beat the popular sides in their group and that, they were going to be leaving Russia and the competition earlier than expected. On the other hand, the North American side showed their fighting spirit as well as their passion which led them to beating the likes of Germany and South Korea, which helped them progress from the group stages.
Although the national team’s chapter within the World Cup 2018 story book has come to an end, there are a number of reasons to why the Mexican supporters should be excited about the future and what to expect from the number of talented players they currently possess within their squad.
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