El Tri and the Ceroles to the Quarter-finals…
by Luis Eduardo Flores
Mexico and Venezuela won their respective matches to secure a spot in the quarter-finals. From the very beginning, Mexico was one of the favorites to advance from the group. Uruguay was the other favorite.
First Venezuela and Uruguay met. If the Sky Blue’s loss to Mexico wasn’t bad enough, Venezuela made their week even worse.
Somehow, Venezuela was able to hold their own against what was suppose to be the “the better” team. The debate of “Luis Suarez didn’t play” can go so far. Uruguay is not made up of Suarez playing.
Uruguay still had the attacking power of Edinson Cavani (PSG) at their disposal. Anyways, at the 36th minute, Venezuela’s Salomon Rondon (West Brom) scored, after Alejandro Guerra’s 40 yard shot got a taste of the goalie’s glove and the post. Rondon showed up right in time to score off the rebound.
That was how the 1st half ended, with Uruguay trailing and producing no results…much less any life in their best attempts. The same applied in the 2nd half. La Celeste did not shift into the 2nd gear in order to get one back; along with any hopes of winning the match.
Thus ended Uruguay’s Copa America eight match undefeated streak against Venezuela. Another unwanted results has now been written in the Uruguay’s history book; along with their elimination.
The final match of the day featured the Gold Cup champions against the runner-ups in a rematch. Surpassingly, the “Reggae Boyz” held their own for the majority of the match.
For some ungodly reason, Mexico was very sloppy in the midfield and in their defense. Jamaica got really close to scoring on various occasions (thanks to grade school defending). This was not the Mexico that beat Uruguay. Of course, there were several factors that had an effect on Mexico’s performance.
The first is Rafa Marquez’s age. The former Barcelona star’s age stuck out and reduced Marquez’s speed and reflexes. When Osorio made the first substitution at the 63rd minute, he should have subbed out Marquez for Diego Reyes or Jorge Torres Nilo. By having fresh legs out, that might have reduced the stress on the defense.
Andres Guardado was missed in this match. His absence somewhat made Marquez’s job more difficult, as he was doing two jobs at the same time. So, let us not blame Marquez for the defensive frailties.
The following does fall on Osorio’s shoulders. Osorio abandoned the 3-1-4-2 formation in favor of a 4-3-3 formation. He had Marquez playing as an attacking midfielder instead of center-back. Miguel Layun went from playing on the right to the left. Plus, he had Duenas start over Diego Reyes. To top it off, Raul Jimenez starting on the right and Yassar Corona on the left. In the previous game, Javier Aquino was starting next to Hernandez. To sum up Mexico’s formation and starting lineup, it was sloppy and confusing. Osorio, this is not the time to experiment with another starting XI.
Luckily for Mexico, Memo Ochoa came to the rescue. The ‘Man of the Match’ in the World Cup match between Brazil and Mexico made some really outstanding saves. What were on target shots were stopped by the “Great Wall of Ochoa”.
Jamaica and Uruguay will fight it out for the consolation prize of third place. Whereas Mexico and Venezuela will do battle for 1st place.
Venezuela will definitely give Mexico a run for their money. While Venezuela prevailed over Uruguay to make themselves as credible contenders for 1st place. Mexico did the opposite against Jamaica. Mexico has to regain that credibility by beating Venezuela by least three goals and not conceding any.
Photo: theguardian.com, Twitter @br_uk