The Gold Cup battles are just heating up. Last night, we saw one derby between Mexico and Canada, in which the Sombreros showcased why are they the biggest favorites for winning this competition.
Though many expected to see a bit more evenly encounter, the situation on the pitch was different. Mexico was dominant throughout the entire match, forcing the Canadians to defend and wait for their chances through counter-attacks.
“Tata” Martino’s boys were aggressive right from the start and didn’t allow for the rival to get in the rhythm. During the opening 45 minutes, Mexico had the ball 72% of the time and was much more dangerous. Sombreros had 12 goal attempts compared to 4 Canada’s and 3 shots on goal, while the rivals had 2 of them.
They didn’t want to take any chances against the Canadians, and Martino spoke about that after the match, saying that they have a high opinion about this team.
“We understood that we were going to find a rival with a high degree of complexity in its game. Canada has very good footballers,” said Martino at the press conference.
Still, they couldn’t breach the strong defensive line of John Herdman’s boys until the late part of that period. And even that was not after some excellent action, but because of a huge mistake made by Zachary Brault-Guillard. Raul Jimenez sent a volley afterward, Borjan saved that shot, deflecting the ball straight towards Roberto Alvarado who smashed it into the net.
It was a shocker for team Canada, but they came out after the break ready to fight. And they had a chance to turn the flow of the entire contest.
Alphonso Davies, Bayern Munich member, missed a golden opportunity in the 53rd minute. Instead of placing the ball routinely into the net, the youngster sent it besides the far post. It was something which decided this contest, as just one minute later Mexico doubled the lead.
It was Andres Guardado. Betis’ midfielder netted the first of his two goals last night. He came in off the bench in the 39th minute to replace injured Erick Gutierrez and eventually earned the man of the match award. Canada’s defenders lost the ball on their half, and Guardado sent a fantastic strike towards Borjan who didn’t stand a chance.
For one moment, the Canadians were back. Lucas Cavallini cut down the deficit in the 75th minute, and it seemed that Herdman’s boys were on the verge to make a comeback. But then again, the Mexicans responded and put an end on this game.
Guardado’s shot changed its path after deflecting off Davies, deceiving Borjan, and this marked the end of all hopes for Canada’s fans.
Still, the losing side wasn’t that disappointed after the game. They were well aware of the difference in quality, and scoring one goal against El Tri is a major success.
Cavallini told that to the journalists, underlining the fact that Mexico is the best team in the tournament according to his opinion.
“It’s something big to score against Mexico,” added Cavallini. “The best team in CONCACAF right now.”
One of the highlights of this match was a verbal incident between Martino and Herdman near the sidelines. The two had a pretty intense dialog, which happened in the first halftime, and luckily nothing more than that happened.
— Miguel Ángel Avilés (@aviles_mgl) June 20, 2019
When the reporters asked them at their respective press conferences, what was that all about, the coaches had an interesting explanation.
Herdman said that Martino wanted to know how he handles the position of national coach, while on the other side, Martino said that them two joked.
“I don’t speak Spanish. I think he was asking how my new role was going. Said, ‘Yeah, it’s going well.’ I asked him if he’s enjoying his role,” Herdman explained.
“He made a joke and I just answered, I’m not sure what it was because it was in English,” Martino told his version of the story.
With this win, Mexico is in the quarterfinals. They have one more game to play in Group A, and that is against Martinique. Meanwhile, Canada has to defeat Cuba to secure second place and enter the knockout phase.
Nikola Velickovic is a sports journalist who loves to write and read on all sports. Nikola contributes both news updates and functions as a sports breaking news writer at WagerBop.