World Cup: Mexico needs to play a lot better than this to be a factor
Before Mexico and its fans get too carried away by Sunday's 1-0 victory over fellow World Cup participant Chile in front of 100,000 or so at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca, they should take note that this was a second-string Chilean team.
Not on the field Sunday was Humberto "El Chupete" Suazo, Chile's top scorer in World Cup qualifying play with 10 goals. Nor were regular starters Alexis Sanchez, Carlos Carmona, Claudio Bravo, Gary Medel and Mark Gonzalez involved in the game. Two other starters, Jean Beausejour and Gonzalo Jara, played only one half, and Chile was reduced to 10 men for the final half-hour after the red card to Manuel Iturra.
To further underline the second-string nature of Chile's team, four of the players who did play against Mexico on Tuesday were among five dropped from World Cup contention as Coach Marcelo Bielsa cut his roster to 25.
So, yes, Mexico won, but "El Tri" can take little away from that result. If the teams happen to play each other again in South Africa, Bielsa will be fielding a far more potent lineup.
Mexico Coach Javier Aguirre knows that, and it is why he has good reason to give his so-far-uninspiring team a stiff talking-to before upcoming warmup matches in Europe against England, the Netherlands and Italy.
--Grahame L. Jones
Photo: Adolfo Bautista of Mexico, right, vies for the ball with goalkeeper Luis Marin of Chile Sunday. Credit: Omar Torres / AFP / Getty Images.