Mexico have announced a second friendly for March of 2021 when they will face Costa Rica. The match will be another one in Mexico’s European tour and will take place on March 30th, but no venue has been announced. The announcement was meet with dismay by most fans as the game seems like a missed opportunity when Mexico is already set to play Costa Rica twice in 2021, when they face each other in the Concacaf Nations League Semifinal and later on the year in the World Cup qualification. Yet a very congested FIFA calendar, which has most UEFA teams playing three World Cup qualifiers during the March calendar, meant that they probably had no choice but play Costa Rica. Mexico will be playing a friendly on March 27th against Wales in Cardiff.
Mexico had a very positive 2020 in terms of the National Team. With the COVID-19 emergency forcing games to not be attended by fans in the United States, Mexico decided to play most of their games in Europe. After defeating Guatemala in Mexico City in their first friendly of 2020, Mexico will travel to Europe to play two games in October and November. Mexico would face great teams in The Netherlands, Algeria, South Korea and Japan and would end up undefeated, winning three of the four matches and getting a tie against Algeria. It seemed like things were looking to continue after it was announced they would return to play in Europe and the first friendly was announced as they would face Wales on March 27th. Unfortunately things looked complicated from the start. UEFA announced that there would be three FIFA World Cup qualifiers played in March. Because not all teams were in groups of six teams, it meant some teams will have an extra date which is how Mexico got the Wales match. Unfortunately though since all teams had to play at least two matches, it became less likely that teams with a free date in the final match date would play a third match, especially with the increase of COVID-19 cases. This lead to the strong possibility that Costa Rica, who will play against Bosnia and Herzegovina at the same time Mexico plays Wales, was the only rival willing to play in Europe against Mexico. While Costa Rica is a good team, it still a team from the confederation which Mexico faces constantly. Not only was Costa Rica set to play Mexico in a September match before cancelling because of government regulations to travel with COVID-19 (Guatemala took their place), but Mexico is also set to play Costa Rica in the Concacaf Nations League semifinal in June. This means that if Mexico doesn’t get to play a friendly in before the tournament, they will be playing consecutive matches against Costa Rica. Mexico will also face Costa Rica in September, where they are set to play in Costa Rica their World Cup qualifier.
While it’s far from ideal to play a Concacaf side in Mexico’s European tour, especially a team they will face twice more, Costa Rica is still one of the stronger sides. Since they are both playing on a FIFA date, they should have their A squad with their European club players although Costa Rica has less players in Europe than past seasons. It really seems a lost opportunity, but unfortunately situations forced Mexico and Costa Rica to waste a match in their respective tours and hopefully they can still make the most of it.