Mexico 2-1 New Zealand: El Tri Earns An Ugly First Victory of the 2017 Confederations Cup

Mexico 2-1 New Zealand: El Tri Earns An Ugly First Victory of the 2017 Confederations Cup

A win is a win, right?

On paper, Wednesday’s victory over New Zealand should be seen as a very positive result. Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio not only gained three much-needed points, but has also been able to collect them while resting key players. Following the win, El Tri now sits on top of Group A with only one match to go.

Yet, despite the victory, many Mexico fans will feel justifiably angry and worried about the national team.

Osorio benched a total of eight starters from the previous game, El Tri’s backline constantly looked disorganized and several players failed to make much of an impact. Were it not for a handful of big saves from goalkeeper Alfredo Talavera, or Javier Aquino taking charge in the attack, Mexico could have easily lost against New Zealand.

Looking forward, the narrow win will hopefully be a lesson to all involved. Whether it be Osorio or his backup roster, El Tri can’t afford to underperform at the level seen on Wednesday.

Here are three Mexico talking points from the recent victory.

1. Osorio went too far with his rotations

Does Osorio receive far too much criticism for his rotations? Probably. It makes sense to give backup players opportunities and to alter your gameplan and starters on a game-by-game situation.

However, it doesn’t make sense to nearly field an entirely new starting XI in the group stage of the Confederations Cup. With names like Carlos Vela, Jonathan dos Santos, Andres Guardado, Miguel Layun, Hector Herrera and Javier Hernandez on the bench, it’s not that surprising that Mexico struggled against New Zealand.

Rotations make sense, but only to a certain extent. El Tri fans will keep their fingers crossed that Osorio avoids an extreme version of this strategy in future competitive games.

2. Giovani dos Santos continues to disappoint

Many will point to Osorio for the lackluster game, but part of the blame should be put on many of the underwhelming starters.

Giovani has the unfortunate claim as being Mexico’s worst on Wednesday. When El Tri needed the 28-year-old to be a catalyst or inspiration in the attack, Giovani failed to have much of an influence — if any at all.

Although some might say that it was an off day for the talented player, this is now the second match in a row that the L.A. Galaxy star has looked like the most quiet and reserved player for Mexico.

After today, it would be surprising to see Giovani in El Tri’s starting XI against Russia.

3. Mexico is on the cusp of the knockout round

In the midst of the anger and frustration surrounding El Tri, it’s also important to keep in mind that Mexico is now very close to earning a spot in the knockout round. Regardless of how unattractive the win was against New Zealand, El Tri now needs a victory or a draw against Russia in order to secure a semifinal appearance.

If we are talking about goals here for Osorio, earning a spot in the semifinals shouldn’t be seen as a failure. Given one point this weekend, the manager will at least be able to claim a position at fourth place.

El Tri’s best player on the pitch — Javier Aquino

Aquino was Mexico’s savior on the left wing. The 27-year-old was audacious with his clever runs that were a constant headache for New Zealand’s defense. Aquino helped create the play that led to Raul Jimenez’s goal and later provided the assist for Oribe Peralta’s game-winner.