Mexico will make their debut in the U-20 World Cup in a tough game against Italy. The young El Tri side will hope their luck changes as they have had a disastrous run up to the tournament, including a not-so great CONCACAF U-20 Championship.
Mexico’s preparation for the U-20 World Cup was terrible, to say the least. It all started in March when they had two friendlies in Europe, a close 3-2 loss to the Netherlands in Amsterdam that was followed by a 4-0 defeat to the Czech Republic. Both were defeats against teams that didn’t ven qualify to the U-20 World Cup.
Things then went from bad to worse when Monterrey didn’t give the team permission to have Jonathan Gonzalez participate in the U-20 World Cup. The same then happened with Club América’s Carlos Vargas. This meant that squad that didn’t play well in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship would have to go to the World Cup without two key players.
Finally, Mexico traveled to Europe to have three tune-up friendlies, all of which were also terrible results. Mexico first tied 1-1 with Saudi Arabia, in the only game they didn’t lose. They then suffered two defeats, 3-1 against Colombia and 3-1 against New Zealand. Coach Diego Ramirez tried to justify the results by saying they played against full teams while Mexico was missing their prime stars, with Diego Lainez and Jose Juan Macias both still with their club.
While Mexico suffered a largely unsuccessful lead up to the tournament, Italy didn’t. Italy finished second in the U-19 Euros, but will not have star Moises Keane, who wasn’t called up. That said, Italy should still be favored against a Mexican team that hasn’t meshed well recently and doesn’t have the results to be considered anything but heavy underdogs. Diego Ramirez has said that he has a plan for Mexico, and we will see if he can make it work against one of the toughest European teams and after one of their poorest pre-tournament campaigns in recent history.
Date: Thursday, May 23
Time: 9:00am Pacific, 11:00am Central, 12:00pm Eastern
Venue: Stadion Miejski, Gdynia, Poland
TV: Telemundo (US-Español), Fox Sports 2 (US-English), Canal 5 Televisa (Mexico), UnivisionTDN (Mexico), TDN (Mexico), Azteca 7 (Mexico)
Listings via LiveSoccerTV.com