Mexico's Olympic gold medal dream crushed by Brazil on penalties: Lineup alternative, substitute struggles sink El Tri

That one felt prefer it might’ve simply been the match ultimate.

Mexico and Brazil, the final two males’s Olympic gold medal winners, confronted off in an totally compelling, if unspectacular, males’s Olympic semifinal which was so evenly matched that it completed scoreless and wanted a penalty-kick shootout to resolve the affair. And that marked the top of the gold-medal quest for a Mexican Olympic crew that may as an alternative play within the bronze-medal match after it did not convert two of its penalty makes an attempt (Eduardo Aguirre and Johan Vasquez), whereas Brazil scored on all its photographs in opposition to Mexican goalkeeper captain Guillermo Ochoa, who guessed appropriately on every, however could not make a cease.

Going through one of many match favorites and the 2016 gold-medal winners, El Tri met its match and was unable to point out off the glowing attacking soccer of earlier matches. The very best seems for Mexico got here on a collection of probabilities to finish the primary half, however in any other case the crew’s sometimes dazzling forwards had been quiet.

MORE: Males’s Olympic soccer schedule

Alexis Vega had the perfect concepts for Mexico, however the attacking subs that got here on within the second half didn’t present a lot of a spark. On the opposite finish, a robust defensive efficiency together with strong goalkeeping by Ochoa had been in a position to neutralize a Brazilian aspect that got here closest to scoring by match high scorer Richarlison, whose header bounced off the submit and crossed the face of the purpose with eight minutes left.

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Listed here are the important thing takeaways from the match:

Why didn’t Charly begin?

It was an actual shock to see holding midfielder Joaquin Esquivel get the beginning forward of Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez, who was accessible for choice after serving a one-game suspension. Followers will solely marvel how totally different that first half might have regarded with Rodriguez’s dribbling abilities and passing imaginative and prescient on the sector.

He ultimately got here on to start out the second half, however there have been moments within the first half when Mexico was in sore want of somebody who might seize a maintain of the sport in possession and sluggish issues down. That’s Rodriguez’s recreation. His resourcefulness on the ball might’ve been useful unlocking his teammates within the assault once they had been freshest.

The extra defensive-minded Esquivel was compelled to step in for the suspended Rodriguez in the quarterfinal in opposition to South Korea, however though Rodriguez hasn’t been in high kind throughout these Olympics, he’s nonetheless a greater possibility than Esquivel when accessible. Supervisor Jaime Lozano overthought this one.

Subs let Mexico down

El Tri used all six accessible subs within the match (a further sub is offered for the additional time session), however the contemporary legs weren’t in a position to present a much-needed enhance to the assault. Roberto “Piojo” Alvarado, Eduardo Aguirre, Ricardo Angulo and Diego Lainez mixed for a single shot of their time on the sector. Lainez and Angulo had been particularly ineffective on the wings, and whereas Angulo didn’t even attempt to be harmful, Lainez typically couldn’t get previous his defender, giving up the ball on a number of events.

With few concepts on offense, Mexico’s solely actual risk after the halftime break got here from a set piece: an eighty fifth minute Cesar Montes header ending within the fingers of the Brazilian ‘keeper.

Outdoors of the 2 backup goalkeepers, Mexico has had to make use of its total roster throughout these Olympics on account of participant rotation, damage and suspension. The forwards could have failed them in opposition to Brazil, however the reserve defenders stepped up in a giant method all through the match. The newest to take action in opposition to Brazil was Jesus Angulo filling in for the suspended Jorge Sanchez at left again and having to face the damaging Antony all night time.

Brazil’s diving antics

Brazil knew this was going to be a good recreation and its gamers had been searching for a bonus any method they may get it, together with some diving and embellishment. Mexico had been lucky the officers didn’t fall for it.

Probably the most egregious occasion got here within the twenty ninth minute when the referee pointed to the spot for contact on Douglas Luiz (under). However there was a video evaluation of the play and the referee noticed that Luiz cleverly sought out the contact and bought it effectively, and he reversed his on-field choice.

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Setting gamesmanship apart, Brazil was a robust aspect and the Selecao performed with an edge. The crew’s 38-year-old captain Dani Alves was in every single place and Olympics high scorer Richarlison was a continuing risk alongside proper winger Antony. Had they acquired some manufacturing from left winger Paulinho and artistic midfielder Claudinho — each had been invisible within the recreation — the Brazilians could have discovered a well beyond Mexico in regulation.

”We had a tough day of labor due to what the opponent provided right now,” Alves stated after the match. “[Mexico] battles very well in matches, however I feel we need to be within the ultimate with all due respect to Mexico.”

Subsequent up: Bronze medal match

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With a medal on the road, it shouldn’t be onerous for Mexico to rise up for its ultimate match of the match in opposition to host Japan. Plus, there shall be a component of payback to dish out after Japan beat Mexico within the group stage. That was the one match throughout these Olympics during which Mexico had been caught off guard, and so they received’t commit the identical errors twice in opposition to a Japan crew that shall be motivated to say a medal on dwelling soil.

It’s additionally a ultimate probability for the gamers primarily based in Mexico to go away an impression on scouts in an try and safe a big-money switch transfer to one of many high European leagues. Gamers like Alexis Vega and Sebastian Cordova are anticipated to be a number of the subsequent younger stars to affix the like sof Diego Lainez, who performs for Actual Betis in Spain.

Mexico could have all its gamers accessible for the match apart from injured left again Erick Aguirre, who fell injured in opposition to Japan again on July 25 and hasn’t performed since. After getting a style of Japan’s stress and enjoying model, El Tri ought to be higher ready to deal with the opening of the match, a part which in the end determined the 2-1 group-stage loss with each Japan objectives coming within the opening 11 minutes.

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