Thursday, June 17, 2010


As an Irishman, it would be too easy to savour les bleus being predictably cut down to size, and I have to admit that the fact both goals came from debatable refereeing decisions made their misfortune all the more delightful. But we have to give credit to Mexico. The glimmers of promise visible in their warm-up games and in the opening match have now flared into something more substantial. The team's classy, elaborate passing did not always gain a foothold in a sometimes scrappy game but when they did things right, they were light years ahead of the French. Carlos Salcido's penetrating runs made me think of Jonathan Wilson's theory that the team with the best full-backs always wins the World Cup. That might be slightly beyond the reach of this Mexican side but the industry and flair shown by Carlos Vela and Giovanni dos Santos, and then, super sub Javier Hernández marks them out as one of the most exciting teams in South Africa. Rafael Márquez also marshalled his defence superbly, displaying an authority that will surprise many Barcelona fans that have seen him underperform in recent seasons.

They will be hoping to beat Uruguay in their final group game (no small feat) so as to avoid their perennial bogeyman Argentina in the second round. Either way, it is great to feast on the return of Latin American football to top form in this tournament. It's true that France are the first European side to be beaten by any of them but the South American qualifiers and Mexico have shown superb flair and initiative (well, perhaps not, Paraguay) and have defended well.

And the tournament is now alive, having thrown up six good games in two days. The curse of the first round of games has been lifted, with even Greece reacting to the hangman's shadow by going out and attacking. Leo Messi has once again being stellar, practically scoring a hat-trick for Gonzalo Higuaín. Argentina looked fantastic today but I'm still thinking it's probably too much too soon. The tournament though, is getting better. And I'm enjoying that.


this too will pass said...

the Hand of Henry dealt you team a horrible hand; must be galling to see them there; kind regards, CB