Like the rest of you, I was watching the World Cup yesterday, keeping up on the twitter as I am wont to do. The reporters at the Croatia presser were posting Croatia manager Niko Kovac's statements.
"Ochoa is a great goalkeeper, but we have good forwards who will be a menace for him. If anyone have their knees shaking, it's Mexico"
He was confident, and that's fine. But he did provide a few salvos that were more decent bulletin board material for Mexico.
And then it was Luka Modric's turn.
"I think that we are a better team, and better individuals, than Mexico and that we will show that tomorrow."
Why on earth would they do that? Did they know who they were playing? Croatia might have a better team, and they certainly have talented players, I will concede the point to Luka. Mexico has decent players. They also have a massive chip on their shoulder. And they historically play their best when the other team underestimates them.
Miguel Herrera probably didn't even to say anything before the game at Recife.
A team that was playing with house money to begin with just hit it big at the table. They laid their cards down 1 by 1. And the exhausted Croats couldn't do a thing about it. The better team with the better individual players is going home. Mexico takes the game 3-1, the 2nd round berth, and a huge boost of confidence into the round of 16 match-up with Holland in a World Cup that has been anything but predictable.
So hvala ti puno, guys. Hope you win the post-game presser as well.
In the biggest game of his life, Miguel Herrera moved his pieces better than his Croatian counterpart. His players absorbed the Croatian pressure for the first hour of the match. Croatia had half chances, but did not generate anything realistically completable. It was only a matter of time before the Europeans were going to empty the tanks. It happened at 0-0 around the 70th minute. 12 minutes later, it was 3-0 and the game had been decided. Mexico was on its way to the round of 16. Croatia was going home.
A year ago, Mexico played out the string in Brazil against Japan, winning 2-0. Chicharito got'em both - his last goals with the team. But despite the win, Mexico was in trouble. Their game was way off. And their coach at the time was unwilling to do anything about it. Chepo's stubborn ways coast him his job, and nearly cost Mexico the World Cup.
Piojo was the 4th coach in six weeks. He used a base of his club team to get the tciket in the playoff vs Kiwis. The pundits thought he would use Club America base in the World Cup.
The same pundits said, with only one official friendly, it would be too risky to call up the Expats. There is no time, they thought.
He called 'em all.
He met with Carlos Vela back in February. Vela said no, and that was that. It never became a dark cloud that hung over his tenure.
He listens to his players and has given them more flexibility. He has a favored formation, but isn't too stubborn to make adjustments. He took control of the game today by moving Rafa to the midfield at the hour mark.
And then Mexico got the goals.
His enthusiasm is contagious, he loves social media, celebrates like a kid, basks in attention, speaks his mind, coaches his ass off, and in only six months, got Mexico believing in themselves again.
And for that, fans of Mexico around the world have two words to say: