Mexico will look to book their ticket to the Semifinals when they face China in their last group stage game of the Toulon Tournament. After crushing Qatar and being the better team in a draw against England, Mexico will be heavily favored to get a win but might need to do it by a big goal differential.
Mexico arrive to this match with the disadvantage that England will play after them and will know what goal differential they need for a first place spot. Only the Group winners are guaranteed a place in the Semifinals, while the other spot will go to the best second-placed team of all three groups. Mexico should also be careful not to take China for granted as they will battle on a short day rest, plus the fact that this tournament has already provided a lot of surprises. Two days ago, the host France went from crushing South Korea to losing to a Scotland side that had barely tied with Togo. Subsequently, Canada defeated favorite Turkey and Japan defeated Portugal. That said, Mexico has shown to be the superior team of the Group and deserve the favorite tag.
Mexico came into the tournament as a contender for the title. Not only does Mexico have a history of doing will in this tournament but they are coming in with one of the strongest squads in a long time. The lack of activity this World Cup summer and the fact that Mexico is starting their Olympic qualification preparations meant this team was able to bring top players like Cesar Montes, Diego Lainez, Uriel Antuna and Jonathan Gonzalez. The problem is although the talent of the players hasn’t been in question, the coaching of Marco Antonio Ruiz has.
Mexico started great by crushing Qatar 4-1. The big lead also allowed the coach and the players to turn it down to second gear and prepare themselves for England. Against England they were the better side but failed to turn that dominance into goals, ultimately ending in a scoreless draw. The play made Mexico feel embolden but also at a disadvantage, as they would be playing first on Friday. This means that England will play on Friday knowing the result of the Mexico match and what they need to do for a first place finish. Mexico will need to go out swinging because a good result against China will make things difficult for England.
Mexico needs to be in the right frame of mind to come away with a result against a weaker Chinese team. If you look at Mexico’s history you will realize it’s filled with great performances against better competition but then followed by a total decrease of their level of play against inferior opponents. In fact, Mexico was in this exact same situation in this same tournament and against the same rivals in 2015. Mexico defeated England 2-1 and looked set to go to the finals. Then they went and lost against a 10-man Morocco team 2-1, gifting Morocco the pass to the final. In the next game, England was able to defeat China 3-1 and get past Mexico by goal difference to play the third place game, while Mexico was eliminated. Mexico should have situations like that very present as to avoid a repeat and finally fulfill their pre-tournament expectations.
Date: Friday, June 1
Time: 8:00am Pacific, 10:00am Central, 11:00am Eastern
Venue: Stade Parsemain, Fos-sur-Mer, France
TV: beIN SPORTS (US - English), BeIn SPORTS en Español (US - Spanish), ESPN2 (Mexico), TVC Deportes (Mexico)