The battle for Group C races on until the final day of the group stage as Mexico take on South Korea at the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha on Wednesday. For Mexico, there is no other way around it. El Tri need a victory against the Taegeuk Warriors to guarantee a place in the quarterfinals.
Here is what to watch for in Mexico’s third game of the 2016 Rio Olympics.
What to watch for:
How Mexico bounce back from key injuries - Talk on the lead-up to this match will inevitably focus on the injuries of Oribe Peralta and Rodolfo Pizarro. Peralta suffered a fractured nose, while Pizarro is set to be out for a few months with a broken fibula. Peralta arrived to this tournament as something of a talisman. Pizarro, on the other hand, as a rising young talent in the Mexico youth national team ranks. Both will be big blows for El Tri. Mexico will need all their resilience to bounce back from their first real setback of the competition.
Cubo time? - Peralta’s injury was undoubtedly a crushing disappointment for Mexico. Peralta has a brilliant hold-up play, good vision, and the occasional goal. In his absence, this seems like the perfect time for Erick “Cubo” Torres to step up and the lead the way. Cubo’s effectiveness has dwindled since his move to Houston Dynamo in 2015, but there is no denying he has talent. He started this tournament well and was unlucky not to get on the stat sheet in the opening game of the tournament. Can he be as important as Peralta? That remains to be seen, but if there is a moment in his career where he needs to underline his potential, it has to be this one.
Beware of South Korea - South Korea seem like a team with all the conviction to get far in these Olympics. The Taegeuk Warriors have looked technically as good as anybody in this tournament, and had they not conceded a last-minute goal to Germany, they would already be in the quarterfinals of the competition. Chang-hoon Kwon , Hyun-jun Suk, and Heung-min Son are all players capable enough of threatening to derail Mexico’s Olympic medal hopes. El Tri have been warned. Ultimately, this is an early knockout phase game for both teams.