Mexico defeated Germany in the opening Group F game of the 2018 World Cup. Germany were handed their first World Cup loss since getting knocked out by eventual champions Spain in the 2010 edition. Mexico’s victory over Germany comes as a shock to many. This is due to both Germany’s stellar reputation and Mexico’s poor form heading into the tournament.
Mexico Top Group F After Defeating Germany
Mexico Took Advantage of Germany’s Sluggish Defence
From the moment the whistle blew, Mexico showed that they were not afraid to attack this German side. In the first half, Ricardo Osorio’s side attacked with pace and gusto and created opportunities to score both against the run of play and through a more direct type of build-up in the attack involving long shots and crosses.
Nonetheless, Mexico’s best opportunities came through counter-attacks. As soon as Mexico would win the ball in their half, they would break with speed and go directly at Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels. With Joshua Kimmich and Marvin Plattenhardt both up the field, this allowed Hirving Lozano, Miguel Layun, Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez to speed past the ageing centre-back pair and create solid goalscoring opportunities.
In fact, that is almost exactly how Mexico scored: Mexico dispossessed Germany, Hernandez played a quick one-two with Andres Guardado, carried the ball up the field, and slotted it left to Lozano who then cut inside and fired it past Manuel Neuer.
For the rest of the match, this is exactly how Mexico kept creating goal-scoring opportunities. ‘Die Mannschaft’, simply put, lacked the pace to deal with Mexico’s quick counter-attacks.
Germany Sorely Lacked a Scorer of Klose’s Calibre
Germany had 26 shots with nine on target and 27 crosses, but no goals. Germany’s inefficiency is in part due to Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa and the terrific defence parked in front of him. Nonetheless, as the game progressed it became evident that Germany lacked a true number nine up top.
Germany’s attacking quartet of Julian Draxler, Thomas Muller, Mesut Ozil, and Timo Werner only managed to get two shots on target out of nine total attempts. This physical matchup against a physically smaller Mexico side is the type of game that Miroslav Klose excelled in with his aerial and poaching abilities. By the time Mario Gomez came onto the pitch to contest the crosses in the boxes, Germany had basically run out of time.
This Could be the Year Mexico Get to the Quarter-Finals
Mexico have not made it past the round-of-sixteen since they hosted the 1986 World Cup. In 1986 they defeated Bulgaria to advance to the quarter-finals. However, this Mexico side led by manager Osorio seems to have what it takes to make a deeper run. Their tight-knit defence with Ochoa in goal and their nifty and quick attack with Lozano creating trouble on the left will be crucial in maintaining Mexico atop Group F and securing a matchup against the runners-up in Group E.
As long as Brazil finish first in Group E, Mexico have a solid chance to advance to the quarter-finals.
But like Hernandez said after the match: “Our objective is in the long term, We have to stay calm. We want to get to the final. We have to go step by step. This was an important step.”
The Last Word
The World Cup is not decided in the first game. However, for Mexico, this victory is a huge step in the right direction. Nevertheless, for Germany, it is a completely different story. The Germans have to improve and win at least one of their next two matches to stay in the tournament.