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Mexico gets important point after scoreless draw with Germany

The 0-0 draw puts Mexico nearly through to the next round with four points.

Uriel Antuna against Germany
via @miseleccionmx

Mexico got a key point after they salvaged a draw against Germany in their second game at the U-20 World Cup. The draw gives Mexico four points, which basically books their ticket to the next round due to the four best third-placed teams going through. They will also now face a Venezuelan team guaranteed a next round spot and who might rest players because of the short time given between games in this tournament. Mexico made two substitutions to their starting lineup from the Vanuatu, with Juan Aguayo starting over Francisco Venegas and Eduardo Aguirre over Paolo Yrizar. Still, although Mexico improved with their performance (especially in the 2nd half), they still aren't close to their expected level and the draw was the most fair result.

The first half had a Germany team that started a lot better and dominated Mexico, but the game balanced out into a more even half. Mexico looked to be improved individually, but collectively remained static in the attack. Germany, on the other hand, looked to be better as a team, especially in attack, but their individual talent didn't look as good and they failed to make most of their possession. They also had to make two substitutions in their first half. While Mexico balanced the game in terms of possession, their attack kept being dependent on Uriel Antuna, who Germany easily contained. In fact, Mexico’s best chance came through Edson Alvarez (who looks to be Mexico's better player by far) had another good header cleared by the German keeper. The 0-0 and halftime was entirely logical.

The second half was an overall improvement for Mexico, as they had more possession and controlled the game, although they continued to not create many chances. Still, Germany had to mostly defend the game as Mexico was able to take over the midfield. Germany's level dropped off considerably as their physical fitness wasn't up to par, something that was very surprising and different from past German National teams. When the game looked to be more in control from Mexico, Head coach Chima Ruiz subbed in Diego Aguilar for Kevin Magaña and Claudio Zamudio for Ronaldo Cisneros. While Cisneros wasn't having a good game, the lack of size and speed by Zamudio basically ended Mexico's danger at forward, and this, in addition to Germany's desperation, turned the tide back to the Europeans. The last minutes had more of the possession in Germany's hand and a bad cross to a wide open German player might have saved Mexico. The final minutes had Mexico holding on to the ball and Germany also knowing that facing Vanuatu with one point isn't a bad deal and the draw was sealed.

The best news for Mexico are that Venezuela is already through and that they improved a lot after halftime, which shows that the team can prepare itself and change during play. The point is still huge because the format means that Mexico is almost guaranteed a spot after their goal differential path was wasted against Vanuatu. Venezuela's victory against Vanuatu by 7-0 showed that Mexico was at fault for not taking advantage of the opportunity but it also means that Venezuela should rest their best players in a tournament that has only two days rest between matches. They also would win the group with a draw, which may point toward a game very similar to today's. Still, Mexico will need to improve a lot and it looks nowhere near a candidate for the title or even to make it to the Quarterfinals.

The worst diagnosis of the team is that so far the strategy of concentrating on building cohesion with a long process of training with the same team hasn't paid off at all. The collective play has been by far the weakest point, although they did improve in the second half. Offensively the team looks very disjointed, but maybe Venezuela, who plays a football more similar to what this team is accustomed to, can lead to an improvement in that area. For now, thanks to the point and the format of this tournament, Mexico can breathe a sigh of relief.