Mexico’s 2013 U-17 World Cup campaign didn’t get off to the start head coach Raúl “Potro” Gutiérrez may have wanted, but the team rallied to advance to the knockout stage. Despite a 6-1 rout by Nigeria its opening match, victories over Iraq and Sweden in the remaining group stage matches earned Mexico a date with Italy in the Round of 16.
Omar Govea maintained his place in the startling line-up ahead of José Almanza and Erick Aguirre did the same in place of Francisco Calderón, the right back whose fitness has been challenged earlier in the tournament.
From the outset, Salomón Wbias did well to organize his defense and routinely stepped up to make important interceptions throughout the game. Italy’s big center forward, Alberto Cerri, was a constant threat to Mexico’s defense and the central defenders struggled at times to contain him.
During the first few minutes, Ulises Jaimes dropped into midfield to receive a ball to his feet and play it back as Alejandro Díaz drove forward to accept the subsequent long ball over the top of the defense. This encapsulated the role of each of Mexico’s forwards as Díaz continued to play as a target forward and Jaimes worked into the channels and back into midfield.
In the first 15 minutes, each team had a corner kick but neither goalkeeper had been troubled with a shot on frame. Minutes later Raúl Gudiño aptly tipped an Italian free kick over his crossbar. After this chance, Italy put together a nice spell of sustained pressure in the Mexican half but El Tri stood firm. As the first half wore on the two teams began trading chances and opening holes in the opposition defense. Continue reading