Analysis by Andy Roxburgh
Both Greece and Mexico are very good at shutting down the other team. The Mexicans are brilliant at teaming up against the opposition when they are not in possession. They press for the ball with the front two players, sometimes with three, and they put pressure on opponents in order to get the ball back very quickly. They are even capable of doing it in the attacking half of the field, if the opportunities arise.
It is the same thing with Greece. They are well known for defending superbly. They are also good at nullifying the opposition, pressing collectively and marking. You can point to the fact that they were only marking the one out-and-out striker against Mexico, but both of their centre-backs did well.
The Greece team tried to play an attacking game in the sense that they played a diamond formation in midfield during the first half. It was a slightly different system from their usual arrangement. Usually they play with three at the back, but tonight, they played with two central defenders and with two wing-backs pushing forward. But then again, this is because they only had to deal with one centre-forward.
However, in the second half, they changed their tactics. They went back to their old system and opted to play three up front. They were looking for an extra edge. Theo Zagorakis, the captain of the team, tried desperately to get them going in midfield. He's a great player and a leader, but he couldn't quite inspire the breakthrough that he was looking for in this particular match.
Looking at the Mexico team, they played their usual system, but in midfield they seemed to operate with five players strung across the field in a large curve with the one out-and-out striker. They are very good at switching the play from one side of the field to another. They hit long diagonal balls to reach the wide players and they use that to good effect. They are also very quick when they go on the counterattack.
Although they start with a 4-5-1 formation, the midfield players arrive at pace to support whichever winger is going for the ball. Mexico are a very difficult team to play against, as Brazil found. They completely smothered Brazil and when they lose the ball they do one of two things: battle for it back, or retreat in numbers.
We didn't get any goals tonight because both goalkeepers played well and both teams defended well. All we needed was one goal and the match would have opened up - I am sure of that, but the goal didn't come. It was one of those cases where you can use the classic cliché: the defences came out on top.