With his favorite 4-4-1-1 tactical scheme, Chepo de La Torre's Mexico played Franciszek Smuda's Poland in Legia Warsaw's Pepsi Arena and finished the battle with a bitter 1-1 draw. Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez scored his 22nd goal with El Tri, and his first official goal since that stomach push-in against Honduras at a sold-out Reliant Stadium.
Jesus Molina, Club America's strong and tall central midfielder made his national team debut as a starter, accompanying the tireless Gerardo Torrado. Sergio "Cherokee" Perez came on the field for Efrain Juarez, and also made his debut in the match's last 20 minutes.
Ludovic Obraniak, Poland's number 10, got booked a red card, leaving Poland with one man down for the last 25 minutes. Mexico was unable to take advantage of the extra player and did not create a lot of attacking options to win the game. But even though the match concluded with a tie, Chepo and his staff will be able to determine the team's pros and cons in Warsaw.
1) Antonio Sinha Naelson is losing his luster. What has made Sinha one of the best number 10s in Mexico - his first touch passes, good long range shots, ability to give pause to games - has not played a difference in the last two games with Mexico. The Poland game evidenced a Sinha who was one level below his other attacking accomplices: Barrera, Guardado, and Little Pea. His experience and talent are special to Chepo's team, but his slot as a starter is questionable. Then again, Giovani dos Santos is not yet prepared to dispute more than 45 minutes.
2) Barrera and Guardado's attacking display is important to Mexico's success. Their runs on the right or left side of the field gave Polish defenders a lot of work and created a lot of worry. Their displays are marked by force and persistence. When they sprint past or elude defenders, they create options to score. When they see an opening outside the box, they try to hammer their shot into the net. They speak with their eyes.
3) Mexico needs to improve on intensity. The game against Poland proved to be important in the regard of maintaining concentration, especially when the crowd's boos inundated the pitch minutes after Obraniak's expulsion. Perhaps Mexico "could have" done more with the extra player, but Smuda's tactics accommodating his backline were executed masterfully, and Przemyslaw Tyton defended his goal superbly (Szczesny who?). Again, key players like Little Pea, De Nigris, and Giovani are not in top-flight form.
4) After 12 games, Chepo has an undefeated record with eight wins and four ties. His team is not chaotic, his team is not one that does tons of experimentation, but his team is organized and possesses a well-rounded work ethic. Mexico has a stipulated style of game whether they play in Warsaw, Barcelona, Mexico City, or New York. The national team is on the right track, thanks to Chepo's exceptional work ethic and professionalism.