Patriots Stadium in Wherever, Massachusetts. Mexico. CR7-less Portugal. It’s on like Donkey Kong.
L-Tree Lineup: Jesus Corona; Miguel Layun, Hector Moreno, Rafa Marquez, Maza Rodriguez, Paul Aguilar; Andres Guardado, Jose Juan Vazquez, Hector Herrera; Gio Dos Santos, Oribe “El Cepillo” (The Brush) Peralta
Corona’s healthy. So is 65-year-old Rafa Marquez. Gio-Brush up top.
They misspelled Hector Moreno’s name as “Morena,” confusing considering how their color commentator’s name is Alejandro Moreno.
WENEEDRONALDOHEALTHY!!!!! FC Lineup: Eduardo; Fabio Coentrao, Bruno Alves, Luis Neto, Joao Pereira; Joao Moutinho, Miguel Veloso, Vieirinha, Nani; Andre Almeida, Eder
Andre Almeida is apparently listed as a defender, but he’s playing as a forward, according to their map. What? Do they really mean Hugo Almeida? Probably not. Let’s see.
As I’ve mentioned before, Cristiano Ronaldo is injured; so is his club teammate Pepe and former Chelsea player Raul Meireles.
1’ – The game has begun.
5’ – I just realized that it’s the fifth minute and I haven’t given any updates. It’s still scoreless. I’m trying to find out how Portugal are playing. Fabio Coentrao is playing as a central midfielder, and it’s freaking me out.
7’ – Nifty long pass into space for Layun, although his cross doesn’t do much good. Having the ability to find those smart long passes into space is very useful to unlock defenses. Not just booting it up-field, but finding an unmarked runner.
10’ – Andre Almeida is playing as the left-back, and Coentrao as a central midfielder in a 4-3-3. They recently went on an attack where Nani, at left-mid, neatly flicked it on to Almeida.
11’ – They just mentioned that the Portuguese are surprised that Giovani Dos Santos isn’t considered one of Mexico’s best by the Mexican media. So, wait, does that mean that Gio is the Mexican Chris Wondolowski? With Wondo, his play outdoes his reputation, while Gio is the other way around.
14’ – Vieirinha just cut in past Miguel Layun and got a shot on target. Portugal is playing quite interesting, tactically.
15’ – Paul Aguilar received the ball down the right, and he sends in a dangerous cross, TACKLE! Luis Neto! Peralta is apparently offside, but that was a nice cross, and an even better tackle.
20’ – Eder with the header, after the cross by left-back Almeida. Again, not sure why they listed Andre Almeida as a forward. Eder is playing as the lone striker.
21’ – Still scoreless, but not for a lack of trying. Mexico with another cross cleared by Portugal.
22’ – Coentrao passes to Almeida, runs into space, gets the return ball, sends in a through ball to Eder, WHO SHOOTS! SAVE! Very good build-up play, and a very good save by Corona.
23’ – Moutinho with a long through-ball to Eder, but the goalkeeper comes out and clears it.
24’ – Hector Moreno should sign with an NFL team. Great tackle to bring down Moutinho. Foul.
24’ – Nani free kick, it’s Corona’s ball.
27’ – I think that against Cameroon, Mexico should try to possess, with Gio in behind the striker play-making (similar role to Clint Dempsey for the US or perhaps Wayne Rooney for England) and then against Brazil play a “Please don’t hurt us!” 5-3-0-2, with 3 D-mids in front of the defenders. Against Croatia? Figure that out based on prior games and what result is needed.
31’ – DID THAT ALMOST SCORE!?!?!?! MIGUAL LAYUN!!!! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM?!? WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND WOULD SHOOT FROM THAT FAR OUT?!?
32’ – Or was it a cross? I don’t know. But Miguel Layun certainly does have that club in his bag. The WHATDIDHEJUSTDO?!? club, that is.
38’ – Nice turn by Eder, but the shot goes wide. Portugal have had several good attacks, but they’ve failed to score.
39’ – Joao Pereira with the cross, Eder wins the header (I love rhyming “Eder” with “header”), but it goes wide. He’s been active, but he hasn’t scored. That will be looked at as either “promising” or “frustrating,” depending on the result and/or how he does.
43’ – Guardado! Just misses! Poor clearance by Bruno Alves but the Mexican misses the shot.
44’ – Portugal seem to be better than Mexico when they want to be. It’s been pretty back-and-forth, but Mexico have gotten caught out. They’ve shown a replay where wing-back Miguel Layun tucks in to cover the winger, but then the full-back overlaps so that a center-back needs to emergency defend the problem away. This is a disadvantage of the 5-3-2: you’re oftentimes outnumbered 2-to-1 on the wings, so an overlapping full-back is lethal. Brazil, in Mexico’s group, have a couple overlapping full-backs in Dani Alves (Layun’s side) and Marcelo (Aguilar’s side).
45+1’ – End of the first half.
46’ – Second half to commence. Keeper swap for Mexico. On comes Guillermo Ochoa for Jesús Corona.
46’ – Cameroon, you see, is a must-win for El Tri. If they only pick up one or zero points against what I think is the weakest team in their group, they’ll need to either get a result against Brazil, and/or beat Croatia. They kind of need to beat Croatia anyways, but it becomes super-necessary if they can’t beat Cameroon–if Cameroon gets a result against Mexico and Mandzukic-less Croatia gets a result against Brazil, it’s already desperation mode for Mexico.
48’ – Insane attack by Mexico. Several half-chances, all eventually wasted. You know, very few times have they gotten the ball to their striker, Oribe Peralta, in the box. That’s how they’ll score, and in their group they have a team slightly worse than Portugal (Croatia) and a team considerably better than Portugal (Brazil), and even if they get out of their group they’ll need to face another team considerably better than Portugal (Spain, or whoever beats Spain).
51’ – Nifty turn by Herrera followed shortly by a Gio nutmeg.
55’ – Whoa, I just spaced out there. Andres Guardado almost scored, Hector Herrera is good, the score is still 0-0, Cristiano is still injured, disco is still dead, and I still like pizza.
56’ – That was hard-hitting analysis by me. Are you reading this, ESPN?
58’ – Chicharito is coming on for Giovani Dos Santos. Let’s see if he can get confidence, and we’ll also see how Mexico can do with two pure strikers. Silvestre Varela just came on for Vieirinha as well. How will this change Portugal’s attack? Looks like Nani is now on the right, with Varela on the left.
61’ – Wonderful job by Chicharito. I’m telling you, at his best he’s one of the best players in CONCACAF. Nice run, skillful hold-up-type-play, nice cross to Herrera, but the shot is saved. Both of these players will probably have to play well if Mexico is going to advance, along with Peralta and Dos Santos and, well, several others.
64’ – Helder Postiga comes on for Eder. Different dimension to the Portuguese attack brought by the veteran.
65’ – Honest question: are all the Portuguese fans really Portuguese? Or are some of them just Cristiano Ronaldo fans? I know that there are a lot of Portuguese people in the Boston area, but you can’t fill a suburban NFL stadium without at least some bandwagoners, right?
74’ – Foul on Miguel Layun, just on the line of the penalty box. I’m not sure if that’s a PK or not, but it’s called as a free kick just outside the line.
75’ – Rafa Marquez to take, deflected, Herrera, TO SPACE!!
76’ – Coentrao comes off for 21-year-old Rafa Silva.
78’ – Alan Pulido, who scored a hat-trick in his first ever international game, comes on for Oribe Peralta, while Marco Fabian comes on for Andres Guardado.
80’ – Joao Pereira comes off for Ruben Amorim.
83’ – As I’ve said, the young Hector Herrera has been good, but he stupidly gave away the ball, and was forced to commit a foul at the expense of a yellow card and a dangerous free kick.
86’ – Here comes Javier Aquino for Hector Herrera.
87’ – Nifty work by Nani, but the cross only finds Ochoa.
89’ – Wonderful pass by Aquino to Chicharito, and the Manchester United striker does a good job to set up Aquino, who is muffled by Eduardo. Chicharito has done quite well, I think. He should definitely be starting, even if it means that Dos Santos or even Peralta have to fall to the bench.
90+2’ – I read “H. Postiga” on the back of Helder Postiga’s shirt, and I thought it said “Hipster.” It’s getting late.
90+3’ – Free kick by Joao Moutinho, Maza Rodriguez loses Bruno Alves, WHO WINS THE HEADER, GOOOOOOOOAAAALLL!!!!! BRUNO ALVES!!!! CR7-LESS PORTUGAAAAAAAAALLLL!!!!!!!
90+4’ – There’s the final whistle. Only one goal, but there were tons of chances for both teams.
Final score: 1-0 to Portugal.
A few takeaways:
-Oribe Peralta didn’t get a shot off.
This is not good for Mexico. They need their strikers getting the ball in dangerous areas. It feels very 2013-ish from Mexico.
-Portugal are not as good without Cristiano Ronaldo.
-I know a lot more about El Tri than I thought.
If you multiply people’s knowledge of the Mexican National team with how white they are, I’d be #2 in the world behind Miguel Layun.
USA-Nigeria preview and then review to come. And then I’ll do more World Cup coverage for the next month, right here on DSE.
Any thoughts about the Mexico-Portugal game? That’s what the comments section is for, everyone.