Is Mexico greatest soccer workforce at 2021 Olympics? Cordova, Martin say deliver on Brazil in semifinal

Brazil beware. There isn’t any workforce on the males’s Olympic soccer match that has seemed as sturdy and performed as constantly effectively as Mexico.

And that is not hyperbole. Saturday’s complete 6-3 quarterfinal win over South Korea is the most recent proof that El Tri is a reputable contender for the gold medal in Tokyo. The Mexicans are solely two video games away from it, with Brazil arising subsequent in Tuesday’s semifinal (4 a.m. ET).

Membership America teammates Henry Martin and Sebastian Cordova scored two targets every, and Luis Romo and Eduardo Aguirre had the opposite two, as Mexico ran its tournament-leading targets whole to 14. With two video games nonetheless to play, that is already higher than the variety of targets it scored on its run to a gold medal in 2012.

MORE: Mexico gamers close to prime of Olympic scoring charts

Previous the names on the scoresheet, there is not a Mexican participant who might be referred to as out for having a poor recreation, though there are a handful of performs they’d undoubtedly need again. Take the yellow card picked up by influential fullback Jorge Sanchez with 14 minutes left within the recreation and the outcome effectively in hand. It can drive one in every of Mexico’s greatest gamers on the Olympics to take a seat out the semifinal attributable to suspension for yellow card accumulation.

Enjoying with out midfield fulcrum Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez, Mexico’s assault nonetheless managed to stream with winger Alexis Vega and inventive midfielder Cordova conducting the assault. Martin was once more rewarded for his selfless, hard-nosed play because the lone ahead, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa got here up with large, well timed stops behind an aesthetic quartet of defenders who, regardless of the three targets allowed, have been typically as efficient defending as their attacking teammates have been to find the web.

The ultimate outcome was additionally partly amplified by the truth that each bounce went Mexico’s approach: a blatantly ridiculous push within the field by a South Korean defender that led to a penalty, a giant save by Ochoa simply earlier than halftime and a South Korean free kick that hit the highest of the crossbar at 3-1. That should not take away from an total convincing Mexican efficiency. Listed here are the important thing takeaways from a memorable quarterfinal:

Mexico undoubtedly acquired its overage gamers proper

Every males’s workforce on the 2021 Olympics has the choice of taking three gamers over the age of 24, which is that this yr’s age cutoff for all the opposite gamers on the roster. It is exhausting to argue that Mexico supervisor Jaime Lozano acquired his three alternatives proper.

MORE: Why there’s an age cutoff for the lads’s Olympic soccer match

It begins with captain and goalkeeper Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa (36 years previous), who had eight saves in opposition to South Korea, together with closing down and blocking a thumping, close-range shot simply earlier than halftime with the rating at 3-1. A objective there might have modified the momentum of the sport. Ochoa’s commanding presence is a giant cause for the calm confidence that Mexico continues to exude.

Midfielder Luis Romo, at age 26, is within the prime of his profession, and he was a giant a part of Cruz Azul’s first Mexican league title in 23 years. He is equally impactful on this Mexico aspect, exhibiting nice soccer instincts on the subject of which areas on the sector to occupy. He was within the field to provide a header help on the primary objective, and his method was world-class on this must-watch management and volley:

That is a objective that 28-year-old ahead Henry Martin (beneath) won’t ever rating. We noticed his sort of targets in opposition to South Korea: a header across the six-yard field and one other header on a set piece within the field. They’re the targets of knowledgeable ahead, who expertly performs the place with all of the sacrificial runs, the hold-up play and the urgent work that’s required.

He is typically criticized for his play and goal-scoring output, however he isn’t the flashy model of ahead. As a substitute, he is the kind of participant you need in your workforce as a result of he contributes even when he isn’t scoring.

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Cordova lastly stars for El Tri

With Carlos “Charly” Rodriguez serving a red-card suspension, it was crucial for the 24-year-old midfielder Cordova to step up and take nice duty on the ball, serving to with the passing obligations and with conserving the workforce linked. He did that and extra in opposition to South Korea, which is critical for a participant who usually exhibits flashes of fine performs, however hardly ever takes over a recreation.

Along with main the Mexican midfield in touches, profitable passes and passing accuracy, he delivered two targets and an help: a penalty conversion along with his proper foot, a shocking shot from exterior the field along with his left foot and a masterful free kick help, additionally along with his left. Here is the non-penalty objective on your enjoyment:

It was solely 10 days in the past that his membership workforce, Mexico Metropolis’s Membership America, introduced that Cordova would this yr be carrying the No. 10 jersey worn by membership legends and reserved for under the particular attacking skills. Towards South Korea, he put in a efficiency befitting a modern-day “No. 10,” and he commemorated his new quantity by celebrating like one of many Membership America and Mexican nationwide workforce legends, Cuauhtemoc Blanco.

These Olympics could possibly be Cordova’s popping out occasion on a global degree. His efficiency led one Mexican nationwide workforce legend, former Barcelona star Rafael Marquez, to name him “the participant with essentially the most upside amongst younger Mexican gamers. Hopefully, he’ll have choices to return to Europe quickly.”

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Brazil up subsequent in semis

The semifinal in opposition to Brazil will probably be a rematch of the 2012 males’s Olympic gold medal match, received by Mexico 2-1.

El Tri has a fame for getting up for matches in opposition to Brazil and enjoying robust in opposition to the South American powers. Excluding the 2012 Olympic ultimate (formally thought-about an Underneath-23 competitors), within the final 15 instances that the 2 senior nationwide groups have confronted off in official competitors, the file is useless even at 7-7-1, although Brazil has received 4 of six single-elimination knockout matches.

Mexico vs. Brazil (official competitions since 1996)

Yr Consequence Competitors Stage
1996 Mexico 2, Brazil 0 CONCACAF Gold Cup Ultimate
1997 Brazil 3, Mexico 2 Copa America Group
1997 Brazil 3, Mexico 2 Confederations Cup Group
1999 Brazil 2, Mexico 1 Copa America Group
1999 Brazil 2, Mexico 0 Copa America Semifinal
1999 Mexico 4, Brazil 3 Confederations Cup Ultimate
2001 Mexico 1, Brazil 0 Copa America Group
2003 Mexico 1, Brazil 0 CONCACAF Gold Cup Group
2003 Mexico 1, Brazil 0 CONCACAF Gold Cup Ultimate
2004 Brazil 4, Mexico 0 Copa America Quarters
2005 Mexico 1, Brazil 0 Confederations Cup Group
2007 Mexico 2, Brazil 0 Copa America Group
2013 Brazil 2, Mexico 0 Confederations Cup Group
2014 Mexico 0, Brazil 0 FIFA World Cup Group
2018 Brazil 2, Mexico 0 FIFA World Cup Rd. of 16

One reporter broke out Mexico vs. Brazil in finals at any degree, and Mexico is undefeated in opposition to the Selecao. Technically they’re enjoying a semifinal on the 2021 Olympics, however it’s going to undoubtedly really feel like a ultimate.

As in the event that they wanted any additional motivation, the Mexican workforce is utilizing a remark made earlier within the match by Brazil veteran Dani Alves as a rallying cry. Though Alves in all probability meant it as a praise in response to Mexico’s tournament-opening 4-1 win in opposition to France, Alves was reported as saying that he’d love the prospect to face Mexico within the Olympic ultimate.

“Like Dani Alves stated, he needed us within the ultimate,” Cordova informed reporters after the win in opposition to South Korea. “So now he will get us straight away [in a semifinal] and we’ll see who finally ends up with the gold medal. Like we have been telling you from the start, we got here right here to win a medal and we’re now shut to 1, however we nonetheless have the dream that it is going to be the gold.”

Mexico is the truth is assured to play for a medal, whether or not it is the gold-medal match (semifinal winners) or the bronze-medal recreation (semifinal losers).

Martin was requested whether or not he is terrified of Brazil, and he took the bait. It teed up this traditional response that the Brazilians would possibly peg on their bulletin board: “Afraid of Brazil? No, afraid of nobody. Afraid of my mother, that is it.”

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