Mexico deserve every bit of the victory vs Germany

Striking Zone

By Chima Okorie
  • Published 19.06.18

When Mexico, with Hirving Lozano, took the field to battle against the dreaded German side, little did the world of football expect one of the biggest upsets of this World Cup. Germany are known for their clinical efficiency, but this was a different Mexican side.

They ran hard and went on the counter attack with immense speed and purpose. Their lightening speed, orchestrated by the likes of Javier (Chicharito) Hernnndez and Lozano, caught the experienced German off guard.

They could have scored a few more goals in the first half itself.

Lozano's goal was brilliant, off a swift and perfect counter attack that involved three passes from their post to the German penalty box. Lazano fired in to the bottom left corner of the net.

It seems like a big upset as the party is kicking off. Yes, it is the biggest upset yet, in this tournament.

Mexico deserved every bit of this victory.

Talking of brilliant goals, Brazil was at it with Philippe Coutinho, the midfielder at Barcelona. It was in their opening match against the sturdy and disciplined Switzerland. The match ended 1-1, but it was attractive football all through the 90 minutes. Pulsating might be the right word. Not quite in the league of the Spain versus Portugal encounter, but it was an enjoyable match.

Brazil seemed reinvigorated and they showed hunger. But it was the Swiss side that remained on am even keel. They were highly strung yet exuded control. They had a star man Xherdan Shaqiri.

It was an exciting and fast-paced game, the ball moved from one side of the pitch to the other in a furious way. There was intent.

Neymar, the star of Brazil, exhibited some fancy skills, but for me these were not necessary. It only delayed the Brazilian moves. He did not quite get a chance to strike at goal, but that was of his own making as he chose to move out from the Swiss danger zone and stay in the space that the midfield afforded him.

The Swiss defence were a no-nonsense type and had rattled Neymar a few times before better sense prevailed. But I see it as cowardice. If every striker pulls out of heavy marking, the game will be boring for defenders and so it was for the Swiss defence because the expected danger was quashed from the onset.

It was the midfielders of Brazil that posed several anxious moments for the Swiss side. It was in one of those moments that Coutinho fired in a lovely curler from all of a 30-yard effort. It was a stupefying strike. It went nearly five yards away from the right post before curling back again into the goal. Genius!

In all these, the Swiss gave as much as they got with interest, sometimes. They equalised through a well taken header by Steven Zuber.

Brazil need their strikers to rise to the occasion. The Swiss were steady and compact. There is no apparent weak spot in their team. My Man of the Match is Paulinho, the central midfielder of Brazil. He was phenomenal in his positioning. He pulled several triggers. He worked his socks off. He made the sometime vulnerable Brazil defence more stable.

Against Iceland, the Argentines looked jaded from the start. They looked a weary bunch. Weary from age - especially from their midfield down to their goalkeeper. Like posts, they leaned on their respective positions. They never wanted to push. Rather they were confirming the death knell of this bunch of brilliant individuals who have donned the Argentine jersey - for what now seems like donkey's years.

These same team may come good at the end, but it will never be because of their fast and furious football. It may be because of fortuitous circumstances rather than design. I do not see many from this bunch lifting a finger. The truth, individually and collectively, is that they are satisfied with their lives. They have achieved much and there is no urgent need that they become the World Champions again.

The entire Argentine team was built somewhat around Sergio 'Kun' Aguero and to the largest part around Lionel Messi, their captain. Both are really feeling the pressure and are yielding to it.

Aguero had only one touch on the ball until about 30 minutes. His second came after that and off that came his first goal, ever, in the World Cup. He went incognito till the end of the half and even the second half. There was no movement, no desire. Aguero offered nothing at all. The goal that he scored came to him. He did not go to the goal.

You may be saying poor Messi. Far from it! Messi was as miserable as a sore thumb. Messi, Lionel Messi? Yes, that is the one. On this day, he was as diminutive as ever. Even in his mind, Messi must have felt so small. Eclipsed by the expectations of a whole country, he was not the Messi we see week after week in the Barcelona shirt.

He was an out of sorts Messi. Messed up Messi, if you please. The one you thought could be his shadow. He even missed a penalty.

Messi and Aguero need to get their acts together, very quickly. Or else Argentina will soon be boarding the flight out of Russia.

If Messi and Aguero were reduced to mere mortals, it was because some people took matters in their hands. The entire Iceland team was a bunch of effusive energy. They ran, they engaged in each moment and came out trumps. They moved the ball around, a trait that should have been attributed to their more illustrious opponent. They were younger, faster, hungrier and not yielding.

Five years ago, not even the strongest supporter of Iceland would have dreamt of a draw with Argentina.

The best part was the measured celebration by the scorer of Iceland's equaliser.

I think Iceland should have been given the Man of the Match award as a group.