Mexico hung on for a thrilling 0-0 draw against Brazil in Fortaleza on Tuesday afternoon, leaving both teams on four points after two group games.
Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly from El Tri’s surprising result:
Guillermo Ochoa: In just 90 minutes, Mexico’s goalkeeper became an El Tri legend. Facing the unenviable task of stopping the high-flying Brazil attack, the Ajaccio shot-stopper was nothing short of heroic. Ochoa produced six saves, and nearly all of them were of the highlight-reel variety. None was quite as impressive as his flying stop on Neymar’s header in the first half, where he managed to use every bit of his six-foot frame to tip the ball away, nearly crashing head on with the post in the process.
It seems crazy to think now that we're 180 minutes into Mexico’s World Cup campaign, but Ochoa wasn’t even expected to start for El Tri in Brazil. When Jesus Corona started the team’s final friendly against Portugal on June 6, most thought it meant he would assume starting duties for the World Cup. Thankfully for Mexico, Miguel Herrera changed his mind, and his team is on the brink of the second round because of it.
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Mexico’s misfiring: The draw was clearly an extremely positive result for Mexico, playing against the tournament favorites on home soil. With any more cutting edge, however, it could have been an even greater outcome. El Tri failed to trouble Julio Cesar for most of the afternoon, despite having a number of chances. Miguel Layun and Jose Juan Vazquez could not test Cesar once with four combined shots from distance, and Andres Guardado didn’t take advantage of a good second-half opportunity, firing high. In total, Mexico had 13 shots, but could only put two on goal. El Tri will likely have to do better against Croatia to secure a spot in the second round.
Brazil’s forwards: Before the tournament, a lack of a true striker was spotlighted as Brazil’s only true weakness. On Tuesday, it showed. Fred, who has been out of form at club level with Fluminense, had an indifferent showing in 68 minutes against El Tri. He completed just seven passes in his time on the field, only three of which traveled forward (one was the kickoff). He managed one shot on goal before being replaced by Jo, who didn’t fare any better. The Atletico Mineiro man badly misfired on the only chance he had, scuffing a shot wide when he had more time in the box than he thought. Brazil should easily progress through its group, but its lack of firepower up top could eventually be its undoing.