At the risk of reading too much into a 90-minute friendly that featured many inexperienced national team players, Mexico were less than impressive in a 0-0 draw with Guatemala on Wednesday night. At Camping World Stadium in Orlando, El Tri had plenty of the ball but just couldn’t break down their Central American opposition.
In a World Cup year for Mexico, the friendly is one of many opportunities that manager Gerardo “Tata” Martino can learn roster lessons and refine his approach through exhibitions and official matches.
After Wednesday’s draw, here are three takeaways that stand out from the game.
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Different list, same old Mexico
Regardless of the fact that the young roster only had two players with more than 10 senior national team appearances, and regardless that Martino was unavailable to attend the game due to eye surgery, the Mexico looked a lot like the team. who had problems in qualifying for the World Cup. A lot of possession, a lot of horizontal passes and changes of terrain, but in the last third… not much to say.
“We had possession of the ball and we dominated the game. Today we only missed the scoring chances,” said assistant Jorge Theiler, who replaced Martino.
There was a remarkable amount of energy from the eager starting XI who had an average age of 23.5, but regardless of their training it led to rare instances of danger on the net. Of Mexico’s 19 shots, only two hit the target. According to TruMedia/StatsPerform, El Tri’The long list of shots was only able to create a total xG count of 0.71. Guatemala, like many other CONCACAF opponents, were more than happy to gradually sit down and absorb the pressure from Mexico.
Up top, strikers like Santiago Gimenez, Alejandro Zendejas, Roberto Alvarado and Sebastian Cordova all struggled to connect. While most of these names all had a few noteworthy moments, they rarely performed well collectively, especially with Gimenez as a striker. Without real cohesion, Guatemala had no trouble getting a shutout.
In Mexico’s last six games in all competitions, only four goals remain. In a game that should have featured answers to some of Mexico’s attacking issues, it looked more like the usual problems encountered earlier this year.
Arsenal’s Flores has more to prove
Again, it’s not ideal to judge a player solely on a single performance. In the case of 18-year-old Arsenal academy product Marcelo Flores, there is also the caveat of the Mexican-Canadian youngster having just 29 minutes on Wednesday.
That said, it was fair to expect more from Flores after his latest comments on his national team’s future.
Although he hasn’t played badly, there has been an almost surprising caution from the player who recently said: “Canada wants me too, but I think if Mexico calls me up for the world, I think that’s where I want to be. .”
Essentially, he’s putting more pressure on himself and Mexico to consider him for Qatar 2022 after just one senior appearance before the final friendly.
Flores’ response on the pitch was pretty average at best. Desperate for a risk-taker or game-changer, Mexico instead received a half-hearted performance from Flores and far from anything a World Cup-bound player would offer.
The teenager has immense potential and is likely to make his Premier League debut soon, but at the moment he still has a lot to prove at international level before earning a place for Qatar.
Regular Mexico starters can breathe a sigh of relief
As Wednesday approached, Mexican soccer fans and the media grew increasingly excited about the alternative roster that Martino had called up. Almost as if he had finally given in to endless complaints about younger and backup options not getting enough attention from the manager, Martino used the last friendly to test new faces.
After Wednesday’s 90 minutes, it’s hard to say any of the players have made any significant progress in the depth chart. Among the most impressive names at first glance, right midfielder Alejandro Zendejas was heavily involved in building plays and excellent at following through. Behind him, right-back Kevin Alvarez also stood out with his daring runs down the flank.
Apart from them, maybe only central midfielders Luis Chavez and Erick Sanchez stood out but they should have created more chances in the future as well.
For Martino’s usual and heavily criticized options, this is all fantastic news. In a game that should have been a straight win against a CONCACAF minnow, several Mexican starters failed to impress.
That said, some of those saves might still have a chance of moving forward.
“It wasn’t the last chance for the players, that’s what Gerardo Martino decides. We still have games,” Theiler said.
And it will be in subsequent matches this summer that the entire player pool will need to improve if Mexico aim to make a splash in Qatar.