Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Copa semifinal 2

Mexico and Argentina will meet for the fourth consecutive year in an official competition. Mexico beat Argentina 1-0 in the group phase of the 2004 Copa America while Argentina knocked Mexico out of the 2005 Confederations Cup (on penalty kicks) and the 2006 World Cup (in extra time).

There's no reason to think tonight's game won't be right up there in terms of drama and intrigue and downright good football. Neither side has lost this tournament yet and both are coming off lopsided semifinal victories, as Mexico beat Paraguay 6-0 and Argentina trumped Peru 4-0.

For Mexico, one of its important players might not be able to go. Nery Castillo has a bum ankle and he might not be able to start.

Hugo Sanchez told Ovaciones that he is unsure whether Castillo will start even if the striker is able to maneuver without too much pain.

"Above all because I like players to be at 100 percent. If he has some discomfort or injury, it will affect the group. I think it will be difficult for him to recover."

Still, hope won't be lost if Castillo does not start. The squad is playing well as a unit and though Castillo is a part of it, he's not the whole of it. Mexico has received contributions from players all over the field as Juan Carlos Cacho, Jaime Correa, Gerardo Torrado, Rafael Marquez and Oswaldo Sanchez have all played well.

If Castillo is a go, he'll have to deal with one of the best defensive midfielders in the world. Javier Mascherano can disrupt any offense and will be a problem Mexico must solve. Argentina's talent runs deep as Leo Messi, Juan Roman Riquelme and Carlos Tevez are a formidable trio.

Here are possible starting lineups from

México: Oswaldo Sánchez; Israel Castro, Rafael Márquez, Johnny Magallón, Fausto Pinto; Ramón Morales, Jaime Correa, Gerardo Torrado, Andrés Guardado; Nery Castillo/Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Juan Carlos Cacho.

Argentina: Roberto Abbondanzieri; Javier Zanetti, Roberto Ayala, Gabriel Milito, Gabriel Heinze; Juan Sebastián Verón, Javier Mascherano, Sebastián Cambiasso; Juan Román Riquelme; Lionel Messi, Diego Milito.

My take: Argentina is playing excellent soccer, and Messi hasn't yet taken off and played like the Messi we're all used to seeing at Barcelona. But I think this Mexico team has come a long way in a short period of time and is playing as good as any Mexico team has played in years. Mexico wins it 2-1.


Nick said...

Argentina is far superior. The last few games against Mexico they gave pretty timid and conservative efforts. This won't be the case tonight, as Basile has ultimate job security. 3-0 Argentina, with many scoring opportunities for the albiceleste...

A.C. said...

I think Argentina wins by the reverse scoreline you've indicated, Luis. Mexico seems to have a bit of a pattern in giving up similar scorelines to certain teams, so that's my guess.

Lunch is on me if you're right - and you can gloat the entire time.

Anonymous said...

Without question this is the best game of the entire year, far more exciting and more epic than Liverpool vs. Ac Milan.

The entire world will be watching this game and my prediction is they are in for a big shock and surprise: Mexico wins 3-1.

Just look at the facts. Mexico has superior goalkeepers and their rebuilt back line and holding midfield is stout, the equal of Argentina's back line, defense wins championships.

As far as team speed, they are equal. Their defense will be surprised how much faster Mexico is without Borgetti and Fonseca.

For me the deciding factor is Nery, Arce and Guardado's speed and deft dribbling will frustrate the heck out of them. I predict Ayala or Heinze will lose their cool and get a direct red card. Advantage Mexico.

Before people dismiss my prediction look at the the last three games, they have been plagued by violent challenges. Mexico can get Argentina to lose their cool better than anybody outside of Brazil. In 2005 Collocini should have been ejected for almost decapitating Ramoncito Morales and last year both Ayala and Heinze should have been shown red. I got the cooler stocked and ready to go.


Anonymous said...

"The entire world will be watching this game"

I love my Mexican and South American soccer but all the gueros here at work have no clue was is happening at the Copa. They stick to their snobby European Soccer.

Anyway I predict a Argentina victory. If I knew Luis personally I would buy him lunch as well.

L.B. said...

We'll grab some El Torito before the Galaxy-Tigres game then ;)

And anon, you can get to know me over some Olive Garden the following Saturday :D

Nick said...

Is some one gonna buy me lunch?

Anonymous said...

I'm curious to see what "lic" and "joe" have to say. I mean what the excuse is this time.

Anyway we were outclassed the second half.

I did sweat the lunch there for a second.