Mexico and Uruguay Playing for Pride
In a game that means little on paper, both Mexico and Uruguay are coming out today to leave Copa America 2007 on a high note and start their campaigns for the 2010 World Cup with some momentum.
Mexico has had an excellent tournament so far. After a bad Gold Cup, the press and the fans were very critical of their coach Hugo Sanchez. It seemed possible that Hugo wouldn’t be around to see them into South Africa after yet another loss against the United States in the final. Their first game in Copa America changed all that. After beating Brazil and going on to winning their group, people started gaining confidence in Hugo and a team without all their stars. Having a super talented Nery Castillo in the team didn’t hurt in the least either. In the semifinals, they were rightfully beaten by a superior Argentina, however to that point they displayed great football and great results. Hugo Sanchez is now here to stay.
The Uruguayans path to this game was completely the opposite. They were horrible for practically all tournament. Sleepwalking through the group stages without Alvaro Recoba in the lineup. Forlan was awful missing practically everything his way and the team never was in sync. They only advanced into the second round of play because they were placed in the weakest group of the bunch and even so, they barely made it. If that wasn’t enough, their first match against Venezuela was easily the worst game of the tournament and perhaps of Copa America history. When everyone had written them off, the Uruguayans came through in the quarter finals with a 4-1 win over Venezuela that saw more scoring than in their previous 3 games. Then they gave Brazil its run for the money in the semifinals, a game where they had the win in several occasions but never came through. Credit Recoba and Abreu for delivering for their team when it mattered and the always well dressed coach, Oscar Washington Tabarez, for tinkering around with this tactics until he found one that worked. They are a team getting better, not worse, but still have to get rid of that inconsistency that they are known for.
Two teams that came to Venezuela with question marks will leave feeling more optimistic about the next World Cup, but which one will go home feeling more satisfied and with the consolation of being the bronze squad? That is what they play for today.