México’s Curse Continues

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 29th 2014)

Cruel, but self-inflicted

Not even the remarkable heroics of goal-keeping phenomenon Ajaccio’s out of contract goal-keeper Guillermo Ochoa Magaña could deny the Netherlands a late win. For once Miguel Herrera Aguirre – the worst paid coach at the World Cup – got his tactics badly wrong. Leading by a splendid Giovanni dos Santos goal since two minutes into the second half Herrera chose to shut up shop with more than ten minutes remaining.

It backfired as the tenth Dutch corner led to something different. Schalke04’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar nodded the corner away from goal on to Wesley Sneijder, who had been ineffective until then, to strike it sweetly into the corner to Ochoa’s right with just three minutes of normal time remaining. It soon got worse, as México paid a high price for the negative tactics..

After a minute of added time the Méxicans fell to the sucker-punch as the Netherlands’ one influential player this afternoon Bayern München’s Arjen Robben induced México’s captain Rafa Márquez Álvarez into a rash attempt to steal possession in his own area, tripping Robben. It was a penalty. Huntelaar who had replaced a below par Robin van Persie kept his nerve and scored to Ochoa’s right. It proved to late to change the tactics back again.

México’s tactic of wasting time by belting the ball into touch started early – far too early and in the end it cost them dear. Their own negativity robbed them of the chance of matching Colombia’s achievement of making history by reaching the quarter-finals for the first time.

Errors of Judgment

México had the best of the match, creating the better chances. With just over a quarter of an hour played an incisive move on the right flank led to Oribe Peralta laying it off for Héctor Herrera López, but Herrera shot just wide of Jasper Cillessen’s left-hand post. Shortly afterwards Portuguese referee Pedro Proença and his assistant proved the need for the use of technology in football wherever necessary.

Defender Ron Vlaar kicked the ball and Herrera’s head. It should have been a penalty. It was absurd that it was not given and that would have provided México with an opportunity to take the lead. Vlaar wasn’t even penalised let disciplined as such a challenge deserved. Robben was later denied a penalty that should have been given too. Héctor Moreno Herrera plainly tripped Robben after Márquez had an unsuccessful attempt – he missed the winger. The case for technology is becoming overwhelming.

And Robben tripped over a prone defender’s heel in the second half too, but the biggest error was Herrera’s courting pressure with 15 minutes remaining only for his team to buckle at the last minute using a tactic that had been used often and found wanting often too. The Dutch were far from their best and an upset was on the cards, especially after Villarreal’s Giovanni dos Santos individual effort a long-range half-volley from at least 25 yards out to the Ajax keeper’s left.

The Formidable Last Barrier

Ochao’s form has been sensational. Prior to this match he had only conceded once in the tournament. He was the goal-keeper of the first round of matches. His performance against Brasil was exceptional. A free agent after declining to extend his stay at Ajaccio, he’ll surely have attracted the admiration of far bigger clubs then and added to it tonight.

Once again he was immense. Less than ten minutes into the second half a corner was needlessly conceded by Diego Reyes Rosales. Stefan de Vrij and volleyed from point blank range. Somehow Ochoa pushed it onto his left-hand post – an incredible save, but he needn’t have bothered as de Vrij was offside. Over twenty minutes later he repeated it. Huntelaar was denied that time. Again he was offside. Ochoa’s heroics won’t be seen again and that’s a pity – he’s been sensational. Herrera’s done an incredible job considering how short a time he’s been in the job, but the Netherlands are through to face either Costa Rica or Greece in the quarter-final.




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