Saudi Arabia v Mexico
Saudi Arabia conquered Argentina in their first game of the tournament. It was a result that reverberated around the world but they are now on the brink of elimination heading into the final match.
So far in the tournament, Saudi Arabia have outperformed Mexico. This should be a fiercely contested game with just the one goal in it. Mexico are yet to score so far in this tournament but they do have some quality in their side that could make the difference here. Saudi Arabia will come into the game full of confidence on the back of two good displays.
Mexico finished 2nd in their qualifying group, level on points with Canada, but with an inferior goal difference. El Tri has qualified for the last for the last 7 World Cups; reaching the last 16 in each one of those tournaments.
The draw is a difficult one for Martino’s men. It’s widely accepted that Mexico and Poland will have to settle for second place. They have been placed in the same group as Argentina. The opening match against Poland could be the pivotal moment so Mexico need to put their poor run behind them and make a fast start. They were beaten 2-1 by Sweden in their final warm-up match. As expected Tata’s men enjoyed the lion share of possession, but they were able to fashion very few clear opportunities.
Martino has favoured a 4-3-3 formation in most of his games as manager. As you’d expect from any coach who has taken the helm at Barcelona, Tata likes his team to have the ball. Mexico are averaging 60% possession in 2022. They have many pacey, high-energy players that lend themselves well to the intense pressing employed by the coach. Key players such as Hirving Lozano are well-suited to this system. He is very quick and enjoys knocking the ball around in tight spaces. Lozano’s crossing ability compliments Raul Jimenez’s arial threat. The Wolves’ striker has struggled for fitness in recent months and has started 2 Premier League games this season. Henry Martin will likely feature from the off.
Tuesday’s match could get feisty after a tentative start. It’s an important game for both teams. The Mexicans in particular have players who are able to force fouls from the opposition. Expect Mexico to attempt to control possession. They will have to be wary of the threat posed by Robert Lewandowski. The incisive Poland striker could be the difference make in a match that should be evenly contested.
Kanno Is set to start in the centre of midfield against Mexico and he will get the opportunity to let fly. He had 4 shots in the game against Poland. The Poles were reluctant to press and this afforded him the space to get his shots away. He didn’t manage an effort against Argentina but Saudi Arabia only managed 3 shots as a team.
Mexico shouldn’t dominate the game in same manner as Argentina did and desperation could well kick in for the Saudis. There will be large support for the country that neighbours Qatar and they will be urging Kanno to shoot when he picks the ball up in midfield.
He has 3 shots in the final warmup game and I expect him to have a few here.
Despite Mexico’s recent slump in form, Alexis Vega has been a bright spark. He has scored 3 goals in the team’s last 5 matches. He plays his club football for Chivas in Mexico’s top flight so he will be little known to a European audience. However, he has many qualities that make him a significant threat.
Vega possesses blistering pace and he uses it to get at the opposition. The left winger is an adept finishing and he likes to cut inside and place the ball in the corner of the net with his favoured right foot. He also has a keen eye for goal and roam into the striker position when Mexico counter-attack. His average position in recent matches is far closer to the central striker than the touchline.
Alexis is also in contention to be on spot kicks for Mexico. He took the team’s most recent penalty against Iran. It’s unlikely Henry Martin will step up with Vega on the pitch.
Hector Herrera looks primed for fouls this game. He played as the most central of the Mexican midfield in their last game and he made 4 fouls.
This is a huge game for Mexico and it could be Herrera’s last appearance at the World Cup.The midfielder played under Diego Simeone for many years so it’s safe to say he had mastered the
dark arts of football. He was booked in the last game but the Mexicans cannot afford to be tentative in the tackle as they hunt for 3 points.The Saudi’s should press Mexico and aim to win the ball high up the pitch.
This increased the chances of Herrera being forced to make fouls in the middle of the park in order to break down the
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