Pressure is building for Mexico. As it prepares to face one of the most in-form sides of this tournament, Argentina, in the round of 16, cracks are starting to show and regrets are creeping in.
Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Uruguay drew criticism and unwelcomed suggestions from fans and media, prompting coach Javier Aguirre to declare, "We cannot coach by congress."
Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Andres Guardado (right) chose a quieter way to exhibit their own frustrations, though.
From the Chicago Tribune:
Aguirre made a couple of questionable moves Tuesday, starting lead-legged Cuauhtemoc Blanco, 37, and removing midfielder Andres Guardado at halftime even though he had played well.
Blanco, who also wore the captain's armband Tuesday, blew through the media without talking after the game, and Guardado was accompanied by a security guard who made sure no one tried to question him.
Afterward Aguirre, who took responsibility for both decisions, appeared to question his team's resolve.
"Perhaps at the start we lacked the intensity we needed to win the game," he said. "It makes me nervous that we haven't maintained our rhythm for 90 minutes."
So the fans and media are publicly questioning the coach and the coach is publicly questioning his players and his players are giving the media the silent treatment. That's one big circle of distrust right there.
What could be the source of this atmosphere of tension and unease, aside from their performance on the pitch and the fact that it's a World Cup year? Well, before all of this, Federation president Justino Compean threw everyone in a pot of intensified expectations and accountability by guaranteeing the team would reach the quarterfinals - something Mexico has done just twice before, both times in World Cups they've hosted.
But enough with the doubts and negativity - midfielder Gerardo Torrado says it's time to blissfully play until they reach annihilation or victory. Via The Mirror:
"We have an encounter ahead which we have to enjoy but we will play to the death to win it."
And that's what it might take to overcome the Argentines and fulfill that quarterfinal guarantee. OK, not literally playing to the death, but we're talking hyperbole here, people. Hyperbole!
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- Javier Aguirre
- Andres Guardado
- Cuauhtemoc Blanco