Who: Mexico vs. Costa Rica
What: World Cup 2010 qualifying, CONCACAF final round
When: 7 p.m. ET, Saturday, March 28, 2009
Where: Estadio Azteca; Mexico City
it's do or die for Mexico in Saturday's match against Costa Rica may be
stretching the truth - but not by much. Mexico would have plenty of
life left even if the unthinkable happened. However, if Mexico do not
get a victory, they may be put on life support.
Mexico face a
difficult encounter on Saturday as Costa Rica visit Estadio Azteca.
Costa Rica are the only team ever to beat Mexico in a World Cup
qualifier at Estadio Azteca. The so-called Aztecazo happened eight
years ago and only Pavel Pardo and Oswaldo Sanchez remain from the
Mexican squad who fell that day, but Costa Rica will surely use the
result as motivation.
players will likely need to relax somewhat and release some pent-up frustration somewhat privately before the game. Otherwise, more Nery
Castillo press conferences might ensue. Castillo unloaded on the
Mexican media on Wednesday, chastising reporters for not supporting the
national team, and even challenged one writer to a fight. It's
understandable to have issues with the immense pressure Mexican players
are facing; to see it play it out in this way may hammer home reveal
that Mexican players are not dealing well in managing expectations.
Mexico are feeling the heat several days before the game against Costa
Rica, they will likely only feel it intensify on Saturday. Tickets have
already sold out, a full two days before the game. With well over
100,000 fans likely in attendance, Mexico will hope the fans add to the
smog and altitude to form an environment that will swallow up los Ticos
before they get an opportunity to settle down.
what is quickly becoming a recurring theme, Mexico will be missing
several players. Rafael Marquez, Carlos Vela and Carlos Salcido -- all
likely starters -- will not be available due to suspension. Vela was not
available against the United States, and neither were Gerardo Torrado
or Fernando Arce, but the latter duo will be available against Costa
Rica. Also, Giovani Dos Santos, who started the U.S. match, has been
ruled out of the game but may be available for Wednesday's game in
Honduras. With such roster instability, Sven-Goran Eriksson must turn
to yet another starting lineup to do the task. Saturday's choices at
central defense seem thin - Aaron Galindo struggled against the United States;
Jonny Magallon only recently recovered from injury and hasn't played
for El Tri since October; Leobardo Lopez is relatively inexperienced at
this level. Replacing Vela will likely be an easier task. Omar Bravo
seems a sure-fire starter, and Matias Vuoso's brace against Bolivia
surely counted for something.
2001 All Over Again?
Mexican players may complain about the Mexican media's discussion of
the Aztecazo but there are several eerie similarities between now and
then. In 2001, Mexico opened the Hexagonal with a 2-0 loss to the
United States in Columbus, Ohio. Also, after Mexico played Costa Rica,
El Tri followed it up with a game at Honduras. Mexico too entered the
game in bad shape eight years ago, although then El Tri had previously
suffered through an embarrassing Confederations Cup performance. Much
like they do now for Eriksson, Mexico players were steadfast in their
support for then-manager Enrique Meza. However, Mexico are adamant that
the Aztecazo will not happen again, and Azteca will likely not featue
many if any empty seats, unlike in '01 when fans displayed their
displeasure with El Tri by staying away from the match in droves
Oswaldo Sanchez; Ricardo Osorio, Jonny Magallon, Aaron Galindo, Oscar
Rojas; Fernando Arce, Pavel Pardo, Leandro Augusto, Andres Guardado;
Matias Vuoso, Omar Bravo.
Costa Rica: Ricardo Gonzalez; Freddy
Fernandez, Michael Umana, Junior Diaz, Roy Myrie; Celso Borges, Armando
Alonso, Carlos Hernandez, Alvaro Saborio; Andy Furtado, Bryan Ruiz.
The Aztecazo will stay in the past; Mexico 2, Costa Rica 0.
Luis Bueno is the Mexico page editor for Goal.com.