Everyone seems to love this Vela guy

That was fun, right? That was one of the more entertaining Mexico games I have seen in years. It was end to end action all 90 minutes plus. Both teams were in search of a victory. Each team had different reasons but it was clear, each coach wanted to walk out of the stadium with a victory, not a draw. Mexico wanted to keep building on their post-WC run. Netherlands was in search of a good showing after having a rough start to their Euro 2016 qualification. These ambitions led to a fun game.

CARLOS VELA SHOW

After all the questions about his fit with the team, it only took Carlitos Vela 8 minutes to find the back of the net for Mexico. The partnership w/Chicharito seemed to work out much better than the one  Chicha had with Peralta. Vela and Chicharito never seemed to occupy the same space as Peralta tended to do w/Javier. with Vela on the pitch, there was no more need to have Chicharito drop deep to retrieve the ball and try to create a scoring chance. Vela allowed Javier to stay high and keep the Dutch backline on alert at all times. In return, Vela was allowed space from Chicharito’s runs pushing the Dutch line back. It seems this duo could be a combo that Piojo will stick to. 

There is a reason he was nominated as one of the 3 best forwards in La Liga last season.  He provides something that has been missing from this squad. He is a goal scorer in every sense of the word. Not to take away from Chicharito but he is a poacher, a proverbial “fox in the box”.  He is deadly in the 18  but is not known for his long range shot or dribbling skills or ability to thread a ball through the defense. Vela has all those elements in his game. 

2 shots on goal, 2 goals. Vela has matured into a clinical striker as well as a playmaker for his teammates. While questions will continue to remain about his commitment to the team, it seems his teammates have welcomed him with open arms. The real test will be when the games are not in Europe and whether he will make the long trips across the Atlantic to play in Mexico or the US.

 

DEFENSE

Going into this game, Mexico’s defense was a big question. They were mostly domestic based and short on international experience. Their only foreign based played had hardly played any first team minutes this season (Reyes). Ochoa has played even less minutes than Reyes, zero. On paper it did not look good for Mexico. So, how did they do? Not too bad.

After watching the game, the defense brought this phrase to mind, “bend, don’t break”. That phrase sums up their play perfectly. They scored twice but they weren’t necessarily due to terrible defending. One might look at the 2 Dutch goals and dismiss them as flukey. What did not go in the box score is all the missed goal scoring chances the Netherlands created but were not able to finish. Or all the last ditch defending that seemed to go Mexico’s way in this game. El Tri lucked out with Robin van Persie missing the game. Piojo has a lot of work to do with his backline. Mexico is in the middle of a generational switch and will need to bleed in defenders in the coming tournaments. Fortunately for Piojo, Hector Moreno is working his way back from his WC injury. He played in a friendly for Espanyol earlier today.

 

Bueno  

-Piojo finally showed a willingness to stray from his 3-5-2 formation. It took the Dutch until about halfway through the first half to figure it out.  

-The Eredivisie Mexicans. Andres Guardado keeps demonstrating how important he is to Mexico. I was not sold on his captaincy but he has won me over. Tecatito made great use of his time on the field. Delivering a perfect ball to spring Vela on his second goal. What a season it has been for him. It started with his coach calling him fat and now he has made his Mexico debut  

-Good showing by Mexico’s  “forgotten” Europeos. Memo kept his strong form for country going as he still has not seen the field for his club team since an August friendly. Diego Reyes showed his versatility, playing the midfield as well as in the back. This game acted as a showcase for both players as they might be on the move in January. I’m sure the scouts in the crowd liked what they saw.

-Midfield pressure led to the first 2 goals for Mexico. First, it was Herrera winning the ball for Vela’s first goal. Next, it was Chicharito and Tecatito teaming up for Vela’s second goal. The fact that Chicharito comes into the midfield to help put pressure on the opposing team shows just how high his work rate is. Even when he is struggling finishing scoring chances, no one can question his work rate whenever he is on the pitch.

Malo

-The whole backline shaded towards Robben so much in the first half, it left a Netherlands player wide open for him to switch to. Then a defensive scramble would ensue every time he made the switch across the field. However, this was corrected in the 2nd half.

-Mexico finished the game with 36% possession. The lack of possession led to the constant pressure. Mexico needs to do a better job of retaining the ball when playing elite teams. This is especially true when they are trying to close out games.

-The lack of cohesion in the back for Mexico was understandable but something the team needs to work on. This will come with time and with more playing time together.

– Robben gonna Robben

 

What do you rate Robben’s dive? Let us know in the comments.

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