Sunday 25 June 2017, 20:10

El Tri: A team of two halves

  • El Tri went a goal down in all of their group matches at Russia 2017

  • Luis Reyes: “It’s something we need to work on”

  • Mexico have had more goal attempts after the restart

By Martin Langer with Mexico

One of the main conclusions that Mexico can draw from their group matches at the FIFA Confederations Cup Russia 2017 is that they performed much better after half-time in all three games than before it. Erratic and error-prone in the first 45 minutes, El Tri have always found a way to come back in the second and hit their stride.

That improvement is underlined by the fact that they fell behind in each of their group matches and came back to secure a draw or a win in all of them. We take a closer look at the tournament’s team of two halves.

Our analysis While Mexico have made sluggish starts to all their matches so far, one of the reasons for their second-half improvements is the tactical approach adopted by their coach Juan Carlos Osorio. It is an approach based on possession, a short passing game in the midfield, and on winning the ball back quickly by closing down space at the back.

Those tactics have forced their opponents to chase after the ball and expend more energy, causing them to flag in the second half and thereby give Mexico more space to exploit and in which to play their game.

What the players say *“Our first-half performances are a problem for us. We’re finding it hard to get into games and because of that we’ve really struggled at the start. We should give ourselves some credit, though, because that’s four games in a row now where we’ve come from behind. It all comes down to our mindset.” *Nestor Araujo, defender

“It’s something we need to work on because we keep falling behind. The team’s been able to react, though, and turn things around, which is important.” Luis Reyes, midfielder

“We’re a team of fighters and we don’t give up for even a minute. It’s part of our philosophy and it’s allowed us to overcome some tight situations.” Hirving Lozano, forward

In depth

Mexico 2-2 Portugal (1-1 HT) Of El Tri’s three games to date, this was perhaps the one in which their level of performance was largely similar in both halves. Each began promisingly enough, only for the Portuguese to then take the initiative and jump into the lead either side of the restart. The Mexicans hit back on both occasions, however, and secured a hard-fought point.

*Key stat***:** Mexico had seven shots on goal and 56 per cent of possession in the first half. In the second, they had four shots more and 61 per cent of the ball.

Mexico 2-1 New Zealand (0-1 HT) Mexico’s biggest turnaround of the competition so far. Following a chaotic first half, in which they struggled to contain the hard-running Kiwis and could easily have found themselves further behind, El Tri were a side transformed in the second. The half-time introduction of Hector Herrera gave them greater control of the ball, while the speed of Javier Aquino and Jurgen Damm down the flanks proved too much for the tiring New Zealanders.

*Key stat***: *Mexico’s first-half shot tally was five, and New Zealand’s six. By the end of the match, El Tri* had upped their number of goal attempts to 22, with All Whites only managing four in the second half.

Mexico 2-1 Russia (1-1 HT) In a tight and tense first half, El Tri seemed to be unsettled by the need to come away with a good result and the feverish atmosphere in the stands. Not for the first time in the tournament, they struggled to counter the opposition’s high press. Emerging in a more composed mood after half-time, the Mexicans produced some excellent football and created a string of chances.

*Key stat***: **Mexico had five goal attempts in the first half to the hosts’ six. They managed seven after the restart, three more than the Russians, who committed 20 fouls and had a player sent off.