Mexico will look for a miracle as they face possibly their final game in the U20 World Cup against Ecuador. Mexico needs a win and a combination of results to be one of the 4 best 3rd placed teams in a group to get to the next round but it will be a extremely tough task against an Ecuador team that also needs a win to get thru to the next stage. While teams before have been in an ever worse situation than Mexico going into their final game, they will still go in with 0 points and a -4 goal differential and results in other groups haven’t looked promising for Mexico to get a chances of being one of the 4 teams that will go thru in 3rd place.
Mexico’s participation in the U20 World Cup has been a disaster so far. After a close but more than fair loss against Italy, Mexico got completely dominated by Japan as they lost 3-0. After a good start by Mexico, Japan got control of the game and never looked back. TO make matters worse, they lost midfielder Roberto Meraz in the game for the rest of the tournament, meaning one of the few experienced players is out. Mexico’s performance has received criticism from all sides and most of them fall on Coach Diego Ramirez. Ramirez team has looked static and out of their depth in the competition. Problems that the team has had since the U20 CONCACAF Championship (Defense, Back Midfield) have actually gotten worse and for all the time spent training, especially on defense this team hasn’t looked as a unit. Mexico’s defense, consisting of a lot of players that haven’t even debuted in Liga MX, has looked amateurish at times and especially in the Japan game, the opposition has taken advantage of it. Offensively, players like Diego Lainez and Jose Juan Macias have struggled to impose themselves although their talent has shown them to be in another level compared to their teammates. Mexico will need to improve considerably to get a chance to beat and Ecuador team that has looked better than them and then wait on results to get thru.
Ecuador came into this tournament as one of the favorites after proclaiming themselves U20 CONMEBOL Tournament Champions. Like Mexico their performance have been disappointing but unlike Mexico, their play hasn’t been as bad. They got a tie against Japan in a game they missed a penalty kick that would’ve given them 3 points. Then they lost against Italy in a game where they once again missed a penalty kick and went down to 10 men. Still they threatened Italy and were unlucky not to score before Italy got their goal. Unlike Mexico they have a clearer path to the next round as a win will practically give them the ticket to the next round with 4 points. They also will be inspired to get thru to the next round and prove that the U20 CONMEBOL title wasn’t a fluke.
Mexico has a very tough task ahead of it. Still it’s not an unique situation and other teams have had even bigger odds against. The most famous would probably be Guatemala who in the 2011 U20 World Cup they lost their first 2 games against Nigeria and Saudi Arabia by incredible scores of 5-0 and 6-0. Guatemala came in with a -11 goal difference but were able to beat Croatia (that had World Cup finalist Andrej Kramaric) by a score of 1-0 and go thru. Mexico itself was one in a similar situation (albeit with a better goal difference) in the 2013 U20 World Cup but were able to qualify after beating Mali 4-1.
Still the situation this time with results in other groups might mean that 3 points aren’t enough to go thru. Still the main hurdle has been Mexico’s level of play. They will face an Ecuador team that has looked a lot better than Mexico. The main problem though it’s that “looking better than Mexico” has not been a tough task in this World Cup. Mexico’s level of play has been very poor and Ramirez has been unable to find a solution, in many ways being part of, if not the main, problem. Mexico will need to do a complete turn on how things have been going so far and it might look as their is not enough time to change things.
Date: Wednesday, May 29
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