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Mexico vs. Martinique, Gold Cup: Tactical Analysis

Soccer: CONCACAF Gold Cup-Martinique at Mexico Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Mexico National Team finished their Group Stage participation in the 2019 Gold Cup with a 3-2 win over Martinique on Sunday. With El Tri now in the Quarterfinals, the overall feeling from Gerardo “Tata” Martino’s side through the course of this tournament has been a positive one, and this match was no exception. Though Martinique proved to be a tougher opponent than most expected, Mexico were able to show their superiority and get a much-deserved win over their Caribbean rivals. Without further ado, here are three tactical takeaways from Mexico’s 3-2 win over Martinique.

Martinique didn’t make things easy

Much of the Mexican criticism from this match stems from the fact that the match didn’t end up being as lopsided as a lot of people expected. But credit has to go to Martinique for giving their best, even in a match in which they were essentially already eliminated prior to kickoff.

In Gerardo Martino’s postgame press conference, the manager blamed “deficiencies and distractions”, and he wasn’t wrong in his overall assessment. In particular, Mexico’s defense remains their most pressing issue, with Lucas Cavallini previously causing problems with Canada and now Kevin Parsemain for Martinique. Right off the back, this seems to be the most exposable characteristic from this Mexican side, and you get the feeling they still haven’t faced a team with the necessary players to cause real damage.

The issue is that through the natural course of a game, especially with a team like Mexico, in which a lot their playmaking lies on their defenders, the time it takes for a team to adjust defensively when they lose the ball is crucial. This is exactly why, when playing from the back, it is imperative for the player with the ball to always minimize the pain of risk. Here, Mexico were just sloppy at times, and against a better team, they would have put their defenders in compromising positions.

One example of this was against Canada when a build-up play ended in the hands of the goalkeeper Milan Borjan. After going long to Cavallini, the second ball fell quite fortuitously to Alphonso Davies, who with a little bit of skill was able to get a shot just wide of Guillermo Ochoa’s goal.

At 32, Andres Guardado remains one of El Tri’s best players

Forget the fact that he scored two big goals against Canada just a few days ago, Andres Guardado continues to be what gets this Mexico team ticking. Guardado can do it all, and after playing in between lines against Cuba and playing the goalscoring role against Canada, he went back to serving long passes against Martinique.

Uriel Antuna will grab all the headlines again, but THAT pass from Guardado made it all possible.

Raul Jimenez quietly playing his role

His goalscoring might not be overwhelming, but at the very least, Raul Jimenez is getting it done in other parts of the field. Jimenez was once again decisive for El Tri, delivering the crucial pass to Fernando Navarro for Mexico’s third goal of the night.

Jimenez’s ability to create opportunities for his teammates has been at full display throughout this tournament, and the tireless unselfish nature of his play must have Gerardo Martino delighted in his starting striker.