Copa America 2011 Preview: Chile vs. Mexico
On paper, the Copa America Group C game involving Chile and Mexico looks a ‘fight to the final whistle’ tussle given the two sides’ World Cup pedigrees yet a pre-tournament prostitution scandal involving eight of the central American team’s players has depleted the guest nation to a considerable extent making pre-tournament favourites Chile the bookmakers’ choice for Monday’s clash at the Estadio del Bicentenario in San Juan.
Claudio Borghi has assembled a side that has the potential to unlock the Brazilian dominance in the Copa America and the clash against Mexico is a test of such a positive pre-tournament anticipation. The Andes nation is the biggest side in South America not to have lifted the continental showpiece and this has been the benchmark that new Argentinian coach Borghi has set for his immensely talented outfit. With the likes of highly rated Barcelona target Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Humberto Suazo on the side, one would be foolish enough to write off the La Roja to stop Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay come the final in La Plata.
El Tricolor has been a consistent force not only in world football but also in Latin America as the CONCACAF nation makes an unprecedented eighth appearance in South America as a guest nation. Mexico finished third in Venezuela in 2007 and had the ability to repeat that performance until a stupid off-field behaviour by some of the country’s best young talents tarnished the chances as well as the image of a respected footballing nation. Fresh from their Gold Cup glory in California over the USA late last month, the young Mexican side was the bookmakers’ underdogs in a group that consists of Chile, Uruguay and Peru. Yet everything changed in a matter of seven days as eight top players from the largely U-23 side were disqualified from the squad and sent home as the Mexican Football Federation(Femexfut)showed immense courage to root out indiscipline. Certainly not the ideal build up for Mexico and her U-23 team coached by senior team coach Jose Manuel de la Torre’s understudy Luis Fernando Tena.
The players sent home are:
Jonathan dos Santos (Barcelona B), Israel Jiménez (Tigres), Néstor Vidrio (Atlas), Marco Fabián (Guadalajara), Jorge Hernández (Jaguares), Javier Cortés (Pumas), Néstor Calderón (Toluca) and David Cabrera (Pumas).
The replacements are:
Kristian Alvárez (Guadalajara), Osvaldo Alanis (Estudiantes Tecos), Diego de Buen (Pumas), Antonio Gallardo (Guadalajara), Edgar Pacheco (Tigres), Carlos Emilio Orrantía (Pumas), Alan Pulido (Tigres) and Ulises Dávila (Guadalajara).
Chile, since the much loved Marcelo Bielsa’s departure, has done well under the Argentinian Claudio Borghi who has kept the core players nurtured and developed by his predecessor Bielsa. With attacking emphasis the same as in Bielsa’s days, if not more, Claudio Borghi is a sort of coach who relies more on individual talents rather than tactical formations as liked by Marcelo Bielsa. Many players who were deprived of international recognition just because Chile’s former coach didn’t have the flexibility to include players that did not suit his tactical analysis, now find themselves at the top of their games under El Bichi who took Colo Colo to decent heights in Chilean football. Results speak for themselves as the La Roja are unbeaten under their new coach with wins over Colombia and Estonia and a 1-1 draw with Portugal and 0-0 draw with Paraguay proving that Chile’s potential golden generation is on the right track to bring glory to a football crazy nation.
Mexico won the Gold Cup in some style beating the United States 4-2 in June although the Mexican senior side, that has some of the best players in the world, was involved in the competition coached by Jose Manuel de la Torre. The Femexfut is using the Copa America as a preparation base for the U-23 side that would be a force in the coming London Olympics in 2012. Although the junior side is still capable of causing a few heartaches for the likes of Chile, Uruguay and Peru, the pre-tournament scandal in the training camp in Equador involving eight players was not the sort of media attention the team could afford to have going into such a prestigious tournament. Giovani do Santos is the key player to watch out for and if the Mexicans are to shine on the pitch, the Tottenham man must deliver in San Juan.
Head to Head in Copa America
The two teams have squared off four times in Copa America games and Chile has not been able to win one game. Mexico won three games and tied one but this record could change in San Juan on Monday as the Chileans are hot favourites to take the game by the scruff of the neck.
Chile 3-0 Mexico