That one felt that it could easily have been the final of the tournament.
Mexico and Brazil, the last two winners of the men’s Olympic gold medal, met in an absolutely convincing, if unspectacular, men’s Olympic semi-final that was so close that it ended scoreless and required a penalty shoot-out to settle the matter. And that marked the end of the gold medal quest for a Mexican Olympic team that will instead play the bronze medal match after failing to convert two of their penalty attempts (Eduardo Aguirre and Johan Vasquez), while that Brazil scored on all their points. shots against the captain of the Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa, who hit each one, but could not stop.
Faced with one of the tournament favorites and the 2016 gold medal winners, El Tri delivered on their match and failed to show off the brilliant attacking football of previous matches. Mexico’s best looks came in a number of opportunities to end the first half, but otherwise the team’s typically dazzling forwards stayed quiet.
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Alexis Vega had the best ideas for Mexico, but the attacking substitutes that appeared in the second half didn’t provide much of a spark. At the other end, a strong defensive performance coupled with a solid goal from Ochoa managed to neutralize a Brazilian who came closer to scoring through tournament top scorer Richarlison, whose header bounced off the post and crossed the face of the goal into eight minutes to go. .
Here are the key takeaways from the match:
Why didn’t Charly start?
It was a real surprise to see starting midfielder Joaquín Esquivel start ahead of Carlos “Charly” Rodríguez, who was available for the national team after serving a one-game suspension. Fans will only wonder how different the first half could have been with Rodriguez’s dribbling skills and passing vision on the field.
It finally came to start the second half, but there were times in the first half when Mexico urgently needed someone who could take possession of the game and slow things down. That is Rodriguez’s game. His wits with the ball could have been useful in unlocking his teammates in attack when they were fresher.
Esquivel, with a more defensive mentality, was forced to replace the suspended Rodríguez in the quarterfinals against South Korea, but although Rodríguez has not been in top form during these Olympics, he is still a better option than Esquivel when available. . Technician Jaime Lozano thought too much about this one.
The submarines disappointed Mexico
El Tri used all six substitutes available in the match (an additional substitute is provided for the overtime session), but the fresh legs were unable to provide much-needed momentum to the attack. Roberto “Piojo” Alvarado, Eduardo Aguirre, Ricardo Angulo and Diego Lainez combined for a single shot in their time on the field. Lainez and Angulo were especially ineffective on the wing, and while Angulo didn’t even try to be dangerous, Lainez often couldn’t get past his defender, giving up the ball multiple times.
With few ideas on offense, Mexico’s only real threat after the break came from a set piece: a header from César Montes in the 85th minute that ended in the hands of the Brazilian goalkeeper.
Outside of the two substitute goalkeepers, Mexico has had to use its entire squad during these Olympics due to player turnover, injuries and suspension. The forwards may have failed them against Brazil, but the reserve defenders took a step forward throughout the tournament. The last to do so against Brazil was Jesús Angulo replacing the sanctioned Jorge Sánchez on the left side and having to face the dangerous Antonio all night.
Brazil’s diving antics
Brazil knew this was going to be a close match and their players were looking for an advantage in whatever way they could get it, including a bit of a dive and beautification. Mexico was lucky that officials did not fall for the trap.
The most egregious case occurred in the 29th minute when the referee signaled the spot for contact with Douglas Luiz (below). But there was a video review of the play and the referee saw that Luiz deftly sought out the contact and sold it well, and reversed his decision on the field.
Skill for the game aside, Brazil was a strong team and the Selecao played with an advantage. Team captain Dani Alves, 38, was everywhere and Olympics top scorer Richarlison was a constant threat alongside right winger Antony. Had they received some production from left winger Paulinho and creative midfielder Claudinho, both of whom were invisible in the game, the Brazilians might have found a way to bypass Mexico in regulation.
“We had a hard work day because of what the opponent offered today,” he added. Alves said after the game. “[Mexico] He battles very well in the games, but I think we deserve to be in the final with all due respect to Mexico. “
Up next: bronze medal match
With a medal on the line, it shouldn’t be difficult for Mexico to get up for their final match of the tournament against host Japan. Plus, there will be an element of revenge to dish out after Japan beat Mexico in the group stage. That was the only match during these Olympics in which Mexico was caught off guard, and they will not make the same mistakes twice against a team from Japan that will be motivated to claim a medal at home.
It’s also a last chance for Mexico-based players to make an impression on scouts in an attempt to secure a big money transfer to one of Europe’s top leagues. Players like Alexis Vega and Sebastián Córdova are expected to be some of the next young stars to join sof Diego Lainez, who plays for Real Betis in Spain.
Mexico will have all of its players available for the game, except for left-back Erick Aguirre, who was injured against Japan on July 25 and has not played since. After testing Japan’s pressure and style of play, El Tri should be better prepared to handle the opening of the match, a phase that ultimately decided the 2-1 defeat in the group stage with Japan’s two goals in the first 11 minutes.