I’m writing this the day after the game and I still can’t believe Mexico pulled it off. They executed a perfect game plan and stuck to it for all 90 minutes. So how did Mexico pull off the upset and become the first CONCACAF nation to beat Germany at a World Cup? I try to dig a little deeper.

Osorio’s Plan

Juan Carlos Osorio is a planner if nothing else. The Colombian said the team has been planning for this game for 6 months and it showed. The team was on the same page for all 90 minutes. A big criticism for his tenure has been the “rotaciones” and constant formation changes and those were not without merit. Players seemed lost during some games but this was the exact opposite. Every player had a role to play and knew how to play it.

Vela as a CAM? He was meant to sit in front of the German CBs and disrupt their positioning. He did just that. Vela was constantly popping up in dangerous positions and springing teammates with passes.

Gallardo at LB? After a shaky opening minutes, he stayed back and kept an eye on Kimmich. He led both sides with 9 interceptions, 7 clearances, and led Mexico with 7 ball recoveries. WhoScored gave him the MOTM Award over Lozano. Not bad for a converted winger making his World Cup debut.

Layun as an attacking midfielder? He stretched the field for Mexico and covered nearly 8 miles in his 90 minutes of action. Playing higher up allowed him to get more shots and be more involved in the attack, 2 key passes and 5 shots. However, he was constantly tracking back and making sure Salcedo had plenty of help on the right side.

Guardado and HH as a double pivot? It worked to perfection. Guardado sat back and became the safety valve for Mexico’s defense. Herrera was everywhere in the midfield. Often taking a pass from El Principito and carrying it into Germany territory. El Zorillo led Mexico in passes, tackles, fouls earned and take-ons completed. They combined to out play Germany’s vaunted midfield.

El Kaiser de Michoacan as Mexico’s last sub? Although it made me nervous, Rafa nearly got an assist right after getting into the game. By the time he got inserted, Mexico had already decided to sit deep and frustrate the Germans, minimizing Rafa’s inability to cover much ground (ie his slowness).  He did what Osorio wanted him to do. Bring calmness to Mexico’s side and provide leadership. He also became the first player to captain a side at 5 World Cups and only the 3rd to play at 5 World Cups.

Quantity Over Quality

Germany may have dominated certain statistical categories but they were empty stats. They out shot El Tri 26 to 13 but they were low quality shots. Germany averaged .05 xG (expected goals) on their 26 shots or about half the xG of an average shot. Mexico ceded possession to Germany (66% to 34%) but Germany struggled moving the back after subbing out Khedira and only having 1 midfielder. Much has been said about Osorio and his obsession with height but Germany failed to create a good scoring chance off any of their 8 corners. Choosing to go short on many of them while Mexico only earned 1 corner kick.

El Tri made the most of their 34% possession. Beating Germany on the counter several times and making life difficult whenever they didn’t have the ball. Mexico forced Germany into 17 turnovers while only losing the ball 4 times themselves. Ultimately, Mexico led Germany in the most important stat of them all, goals scored.


World Cup Memo

Memo is back in World Cup form with his 9 saves against Germany, the most so far in Russia. Not all needed to be world class saves but he did have a special save on a Germany free kick late in the first half. He became only the 2nd goalkeeper with clean sheets against Brazil and Germany at the World Cup. I know I spent this whole article praising Osorio but if he benches Memo this tournament for anything besides an injury, we should pull a Spain and let him go.



So is this the biggest victory for El Tri? For now but I hope another one will soon surpass it this summer in Russia. Until then, enjoy Lozano’s first World Cup goal.