Argentina are the hot favourites to win the Copa America Centenario in the USA, and with good reason. They have an incredible squad, with depth and quality in every position.
However, they are certainly not guaranteed to go on and win the tournament. Here are four reasons why Mexico can overcome the might of the Argentinians and go on to lift the prestigious trophy.
Mexico entered the tournament on a run of eight-straight wins, and unbeaten in 19 games in total. A number of those wins came in friendlies and they did face some relatively weak opposition throughout that run. Nevertheless, they have improved as time progressed and have been playing some magnificent football over the last year or so.
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They have a good blend of youth and experience, and the players really seem to have gelled. At times, they have almost looked like a club team such is the depth of understanding they have displayed.
In order to win the tournament, they will obviously have to produce against a higher level of opponent than they have faced in their previous run, at least in terms of competitive matches but look fully capable of doing that on current form.
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They don’t concede many goals
In that run of eight consecutive victories in the run up to the Copa America, Mexico remarkably managed to avoid conceding a single goal. That is quite an impressive achievement, regardless of their opposition including the less than mighty footballing nations of Canada and El Salvador.
They have managed this solidity despite not being defensively orientated in any way. Instead, they are well organised, keep possession, and make relatively few mistakes. At this level of international football, keeping clean sheets is like gold dust.
Their defensive performances will also be boosted by the absence from the tournament of Trinidad & Tobago, who scored seven goals in two games against Mexico in 2015. Even the strongest defences have their weaknesses, Mexico’s appears to be small Caribbean nations.
Mexico can enjoy home advantage
The more observant reader will have spotted the slight problem with this heading. Obviously, Mexico is not actually in the USA. It might as well be though, given the level of support Mexico are likely to receive throughout the Copa America.
In addition to the huge numbers of Mexicans already living in the USA, there will be no shortage of fans making the short trip over the border to support their heroes. If they make the final, expect scenes of absolute bedlam. Donald Trump will need to build more than a wall to keep the Mexicans out of America for that match.
They got off to a strong start
International tournaments are short and there is little time to build momentum. The fact that Mexico started the tournament with a convincing victory over one of the stronger teams in the tournament may just give an already confident team the extra boost they need to take on the top teams in the latter stages. The 3-1 victory over Uruguay could prove to be very significant.
In addition to boosting their own morale, and damaging an opponent’s, there is also another significant benefit: the runners-up in Mexico’s group are due to face the winners of Argentina’s group in the quarter-finals.
While there is a strong possibility they will have to face Argentina at some stage in order to lift the trophy, there is no doubt that the Mexicans would prefer to avoid them until the final if possible.
By that stage, a combination of increased confidence and delirious support may just be enough to give them the edge. In any case, they will hope their undoubted ability will be enough to overcome what is a very strong Argentine team.
It won’t be easy, but the time may be right for the team that many consider to be Mexico’s best ever side to complete what would be a famous victory.