Mexico not looking past down-and-out China
Humberto Grondona’s Mexicans will have their work cut out for them when they take on wounded China in their third and final Group A match. With four points from two matches, Mexico will be looking for a win to ensure a place in the second round. Potentially the talented North Americans – by most accounts the toast of the group – could also progress with a draw or even a loss, if Colombia beat the vibrant Vintiöt hosts.
The Argentine-born boss with a penchant for radically rearranging his squad from game to game must get his boys up for a tense battle against the hard-luck Chinese. With three outstanding attackers in Wang Yongpo, Jiang Chen and Jiang Ning, the already eliminated Chinese will be keen to get some points for pride and honour on 19 August in Helsinki.
“I don’t think they deserved to lose either game…in my opinion they were very unlucky,” said Grondona about China’s two 1-2 losses to Finland and Colombia. In both matches China took the lead and failed to hang on. “I am sure the match will be a very difficult one for us.”
When asked if he would make further changes to his seemingly bottomless squad, Grondona was not giving anything away.
“There would be only one player that would have a spot in my starting eleven for each game,” he said after the Finland win. “And that would be Diego Maradona. You must play different styles and different players depending on the opponent.
However, one player sure to be on Grondona’s start sheet is captain and roving playmaker Alberto Ramirez. One of the top talents at the finals, the number five who plays more like a natural number ten is the boss’ number one on the pitch.”
“He was quite simply the best player on the field,” said Grondona after the Tecos man orchestrated the destruction of Finland. “He is my captain and I have every faith in his abilities as a footballer and a team leader.”
Grondona’s frank words do not do justice to the bustling midfielder who seems to turn up like fine dust everywhere on the pitch. As comfortable in the tackle as he is with effervescent flicks of the heel, the powerful yet calm, finesse player will be Grondona’s lieutenant in the crucial clash with China.
“We are always trying to move up, higher and higher,” said Grondona. “The first step was to qualify for the World Championship. We knew each game was going to be tough, and China will be no exception.”