It was a successful start to Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s reign in charge of the Mexico National Team as El Tri earned a convincing 3-1 win over Chile on Friday night. Here’s what we learned from Tata’s debut.
Mexico showed plenty of promise
Beating Chile is certainly never easy. They are the back-to-back Copa America champions after all, which is why Mexico’s win over La Roja is reason enough to get excited.
It was by no means perfect, but while Chile enjoyed the better chances in a chippy first half, it was Mexico’s aggressiveness and desire going forward that ultimately paved way for victory. In particular, the freedom the forwards showed in combining and floating into open spaces was admirable, a nice contrast from the often pragmatic style of play we saw from Juan Carlos Osorio. Rodolfo Pizarro, Raul Jimenez, and Hirving “Chucky” Lozano were all brilliant, timing their movement forward with precision and showing great instinct, as typified in Mexico’s third goal.
The same could also be said about the midfield. 22-year-old Carlos Rodriguez will certainly treasure the moment, and in his debut with the senior national team, he looked pretty comfortable alongside Andres Guardado.
Overall, the first steps in Tata’s managerial career with the Mexico National Team were taken, and you’ve got to like the initial signs.
Tata brings a refreshing take off the field
Tata lands in a job where more often than not Mexican media uses managers as an instrument to sell news, while throwing away any form of healthy critique. But if Tata’s press conferences are anything to go by, he is the kind of manager that Mexican media will learn to like. From his initial complaints about the state of the pitch a day before the match, to his comments about the competitiveness of Liga MX, he seems to be able to strike a good cord even with those muttering doubts inside the pressroom.
At one point in his post-game press conference, he was asked about his choice of Carlos Rodriguez in the midfield despite the youngster’s lack of experience with the national team. His simple answer was, “If he is 22 and he plays like he is 30, it really doesn’t matter.” It was a blunt answer, but the way he said it was also refreshing to see. In a game where it’s getting more difficult to find managers that strike the right balance between heart and objectivity, Tata seems to have it down.
Different challenges lay ahead starting with Paraguay
Mexico’s Gold Cup hopes seem largely confined to how well this team does against the more defensive teams we see in CONCACAF. It could be that Chile, a side devoid of any desire to sit back and absorb pressure, was just the perfect matchup for Tata’s first game in charge of El Tri. On Tuesday, El Tri face Paraguay in a game promises to have a whole different set of new challenges, one that perhaps offers the need to adjust to a more defensive approach. As such, it will be interesting to see what kind of team Tata fields and what kind of conclusions we can draw at the conclusion of the match.