Quarter-finals: France – Colombia – Belgium – Costa Rica
World Cup progress: Group stage
Team rating: 7
Top scorer: Giovani, Guadrado, Hernandez, Marquez, Peralta (1)
Mexico showed great promise throughout the group stage going toe to toe with Brazil, but they were dumped out the tournament in heartbreaking fashion, reflects Tony Ciriello.
Mexico were far from stellar in qualifying, had changed manager seven times in the previous five years and few tipped them to qualify in a group containing Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon.
However, they defied expectation and finished the group stage unbeaten, including a 0-0 draw against hosts Brazil.
Dynamism permeated throughout Mexico’s game with Hector Herrera pulling the strings in midfield and supporting the energetic Giovani Dos Santos and Oribe Peralta. Their back three looked solid with a rejuvenated Rafael Marquez leading with authority.
In the Round of 16 against Holland, the stats were very much against them and, despite an all-out performance, fate also proved against them.
Heading into the closing stages of this match with a particular record of five consecutive competition eliminations at this same round, Wesley Sneijder struck to equalise before a Klaas-Jan Huntelaar penalty in injury time dumped Mexico out.
From anticipation to despair in minutes. Perhaps Mexico still lack the trait shared by many of the international heavyweights of being able to close a game out. It was this shortfall that ultimately cost them their World Cup dream.
The Coach – Miguel Herrera
Herrera was a Coach that combined tactical astuteness with wild ecstasy on the sidelines. Most notably versus Croatia, He was seen leaping into the arms of his players, falling to the floor and altogether resembling a man who looked like he’d just won the lottery. His touchline goal celebrations were a highlight of the tournament.
Player of the Tournament – Hector Herrera
Hector Herrera demonstrated his footballing repertoire with probing runs, quick feet, vision and an eye for goal. An honourable mention should also go to goalkeeper and free agent Guillermo Ochoa whose acrobatic stops saved Mexico numerous times.
Their 3-1 win against Croatia coupled with Coach Herrera’s antics on the sideline showed all of Mexico’s qualities and how they are progressing in world football.
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For a complete review of the 2014 World Cup, check out the next issue of Soccer Italia, written by the team at Football Italia and available on worldwide subscription.