Confederations Cup Semi-Final Preview: Mexico

The semi-finals of the 2017 Confederations Cup are upon us as we take a look at CONCACAF Champions Mexico and their chances of going all the way.

The story so far
Mexico got out of the group the hard way, coming from behind four times to eventually finish behind Portugal on goal difference and leave them with a semi-final clash against Group B winners Germany.

El Tri’s most impressive performance came in their opening game against European champions Portugal who they dominated for considerable portions of the game with Javier Hernandez getting an equaliser just before half time. Another moment of sloppy defending did allow Portugal back in before Hector Moreno’s thrilling injury time header gave his side a deserved share of the spoils.

For their following game against New Zealand, coach Juan Carlos Rosorio made 8 changes to his side and it showed as New Zealand took a shock 1-0 lead into the break. Mexico did eventually grab a 2-1 win thanks to a Javier Aquino inspired comeback as he played vital parts in both Raul Jimenez’ equaliser and Oribe Peralta’s winner.

This brought Mexico into an effectively do-or-die situation against hosts Russia, where once again they found themselves behind after some poor defending. However, they were able to pull a win out of the bag yet again thanks to Hirving “Chucky” Lozano’s brave second-half header.

They’ll beat Germany because…
They’ve clearly got some steel about them having come from behind in every game of the tournament and not lost any of them. They were behind to Portugal twice but came back for a draw, whilst they trailed both Russia and New Zealand 1-0 before beating both 2-1.

Scoring has also been a strong point for Mexico in this tournament with two in each game showing they’ve got the ability to punish any mistakes that Germany may make. The variety of these goals will also cause problems for Germany with the creative abilities of Carlos Vela and Giovanni Dos Santos well complemented by the direct running of Aquino and Miguel Layun whilst each of their three strikers bagged goals in the group stage. On top of all that, corner goals from Moreno and Nestor Araujo in the group stage demonstrated Mexico’s strength at set pieces.

They’ll be knocked-out by Germany because…
I mean, come on. It’s Germany at a major tournament. Winning is as much a part of their footballing DNA as possession is for Spain or losing to Germany is for England. They know how to get the job done even if this is their so called “B” team.

Not to mention history is heavily against Mexico here. Every knockout game that they have won in either a Confederations Cup or World Cup has taken place in Mexico and breaking that duck will take an almighty amount of doing.

Will they win the Confederations Cup?
It’s seriously unlikely. Even if Mexico are able to overcome the odds and beat the world champions, a potential final with Chile, who beat them 7-0 in the Copa America a year ago, looms like a tropical storm cloud.

Best moment of the tournament so far
With two minutes left in added time it was looking like Mexico had put in a depressingly impressive performance against Portugal which would see them leave empty handed. Then, a Miguel Layun corner is floated beautifully into the box as AS Roma centre back Hector Moreno rises above the crowd of players before his header strikes the inside of the post and rebounds into the net. Moreno is subsequently swarmed by his teammates as Mexico let the European Champions know that they mean business in this tournament.

Key Player
After more unsuccessful loans than a pre GFC Bank, former Arsenal forward Carlos Vela has finally found himself a home in La Liga with Real Sociedad. Having scored over 50 goals now for the Basque side, Vela seems to finally be turning into the player he always had the potential to be.

His relation with the national team has always been a strained one, especially between 2011 and 2014 as he refused numerous call ups, but now all bygones seem to be bygones. He put in a few good shifts during the group games and with his technique and ability he is Mexico’s great game changer and a big semi-final performance from him is crucial to a Mexican victory.

Injuries/suspensions
Centre-back Diego Reyes will almost certainly miss this one through injury.

Prediction
I’m forever a glass half full type of person so I’m going to say 4-3 to Mexico on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time.

SHARE