Mexico lost in their U-20 World Cup debut versus Italy. A terrible start from the young El Tri side allowed Italy to take an early lead. Mexico got back into the game and equalized, but Italy looked the better team in the second half and snatched all three points. Mexico will now have a do or die game on Sunday against Japan.
Mexico started with the surprise that both Diego Lainez and Jose Juan Macias were starters. Lainez only joined the squad on Sunday and Macias got there on Tuesday after missing a connecting flight on Monday.
It would be Italy who would take the early lead. Once again, the central midfield was the highway it was in the U-20 CONCACAF Championship, allowing Davide Frattesi time and space to get a shot off and score.
It took Mexico 21 minutes for them to have their first big opportunity when Roberto de la Rosa’s shot was easily handled by the Italian keeper.
Mexico then had a little more control of the ball as Italy sat back (something that is quite normal with them), but apart from a good opportunity in which Macias failed to get a shot off, they didn’t really threaten Italy.
Eventually, Mexico was able to capitalized from a terrible mistake from the Italian defense, who headed the ball past their own keeper, gave a free header to De la Rosa, who scored for the 1-1.
Italy immediately fired back, and Scamacca had a bicycle kick in the area that goalkeeper Carlos Higuera stopped. Italy continued having more chances as Mexico rode it out, and luckily for Mexico, they went into the half leveled at 1-1.
The second half started with a strange substitution when Misael Dominguez, who had been among the best, got subbed out for Francisco Figueroa.
Italy came close to scoring when once again a mistake from Mexico’s defense allowed an Italian player to a free cross that Luca Pellegrini shot straight to Higuera, wasting a great chance.
Mexico had a great opportunity when Macias forced the Italian keeper to make a one-handed save.
Moments later, Italy almost took the lead when Matteo Grabba hit the post. But off the ensuing corner kick, Italy scored their second when Mexico failed to clear the ball and a cross found Luca Raineri, who scored in the area for the 2-1.
Down a goal, Mexico had a good chance to level when Macias and Lainez combined for a shot whose rebound fell to De la Rosa. The young Pachuca forward though failed to get to the rebound and had the ball cleared off his feet.
After Italy had a couple of opportunities, Mexico had a good chance when they found a wide open Kevin Alvarez, whose shot went inches wide off the right post.
In the final minutes, Mexico kept the ball, but Italy was well under control. Diego Ramirez looked out of his depth in changing the situation. In the end, Mexico never came close to equalizing and the defeat was well deserved.
Mexico looked a little better than expected, but after this defeat, it has to be said that the team still looked pretty weak in a lot of areas. Like in the U-20 CONCACAF Championship, Diego Lainez looked isolated on the wings and the team looked static. Moreover, the last 15 minutes when Mexico had no offensive ideas to break through the Italian defense were worrying. Mexico, but especially Diego Ramirez, will need to improve and fast.