Germany hit the ground running on Thursday.
By the 8th minute of the Confederations Cup semifinal, Mexico found itself chasing a 2-0 deficit. Wasting no time, Germany’s Leon Goretzka capitalized on two early opportunities that shocked El Tri’s lackadaisical backline.
Credit must be given to Mexico for immediately controlling the possession and attacking momentum afterwards, but El Tri was never able to be as efficient as the opposition with its opportunities in the final third. After launching a total of 26 shots in the semifinal, Mexico was only able to find the back of the net just once. As for the Germans, the European giants were highly decisive with four goals from their 12 shots against El Tri.
Following a successful run in the group stage, Thursday’s loss was a major blow to the Mexican side that is still trying to prove that it can compete with some of the world’s best squads. Germany’s roster, although young and filled with backup players, was simply more potent and effective during the semifinal clash.
With a third place match now set for Mexico this Sunday against Portugal, here are three El Tri talking points from the one-sided loss:
1. Mexico needs a true defensive midfielder
During the group stage of the tournament, El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio was able to earn positive results without a traditional defensive midfielder. Instead of a name like Jesus Molina or Jose Juan Vazquez, Osorio instead went with Hector Herrera and Diego Reyes in the middle of the pitch.
Herrera, who is typically a more attack-minded player, struggled to have much of a presence defensively against Germany. Reyes, who is more of a central defender, looked lost in that midfield role against New Zealand last week.
If Osorio is truly open to learning from his mistakes, he must consider a more traditional defensive midfielder that could have helped Mexico avoid Thursday’s loss.
Mexico have been crying out for an anchor man in the midfield today. Someone to sit behind the play and break up German counters #eltrieng
— Tom Harrison (@tomh_36) June 29, 2017
2. Osorio must reassess his strategy with El Tri’s backline
The manager’s tendency to use defenders out of position must end. Against Germany, the opposition was able to easily exploit left-back Oswaldo Alanis, who is usually a central defender.
When you consider the fact that Osorio had a true left-back such as Luis Reyes on the bench, it’s confusing why he would continue to try out Alanis in his position. Looking forward, he might also need to consider giving opportunities to other names like Jesus Sanchez, Raul Lopez and Jose Madueña.
Not saying that those aforementioned names are starting options, but considering Alanis’ disappointing performance, it wouldn’t hurt to try out players who have thrived in those full-back positions.
The Wild Adventures of Oswaldo Alanis as a Left Back – by Juan Carlos Osorio.
Now on paperback.
— The Champion Goat 🐐 (@thestraygoat) June 29, 2017
3. Third place match is now a must-win
Sunday’s game is almost a lose-lose situation for El Tri. Whether it’s fair or not, if Mexico wins, it will feel bittersweet after the semifinal loss to Germany. If Mexico loses, massive criticism will continue to build for the manager that once again stumbled in a knockout round game.
Osorio has plenty to prove this weekend, and although a victory wouldn’t compensate for a lack of a final appearance, it will at least help alleviate some of the massive pressure for the manager and his roster.
— Selección Nacional (@miseleccionmx) June 29, 2017
Mexico’s best player on the field — Jonathan dos Santos
Regardless of the early goals, Dos Santos never seemed to give up hope for El Tri. When others looked shocked after the goals, the 27-year-old stepped up with an incessant amount of energy and tackles in the midfield. If he was given more time by Osorio, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see him have a part in a goal for Mexico.
It’s a small silver-lining for El Tri, but it’s also one worth noting: Dos Santos is quickly becoming one of the most important players in the roster. If Osorio can find a proper defensive midfielder to work behind the Villarreal player, that would then be able to provide Dos Santos with plenty of freedom to help dictate the pace of future games.
El Tri has to keep calm after the worst possible start. Jona trying to pull all the strings together but needs support.
— Nayib Morán (@nayibmoran) June 29, 2017