Mexican national team head coach Gerardo Martino will use the recent friendly against Sweden as reference when preparing to face Poland on Tuesday in their inaugural 2022 World Cup match, insisting it was a game ‘that could be repeated tomorrow’.
El Tri fell 2-1 to Sweden in Girona, Spain on November 16, in their last friendly before heading to Qatar. The European side opened up the scoring in the second half, before Alexis Vega quickly found the equalizer when connecting with veteran Hector Herrera. But ultimately, Mattias Svanberg sealed the victory for Sweden by heading home a corner kick.
Martino previously warned Mexico of the lethality of set pieces, given Poland’s ability to win previous games that way. The Polish side recently defeated Chile 1-0 with a free-kick goal, after only managing a shocking 27 percent possession throughout the game.
“Poland position themselves well. I’ve also said that for the most part, they have only one way to play: wait and go into space. The Sweden game for me is something that could be repeated tomorrow,” he said.
“Against Sweden we had the ball and the rival didn’t hurt us in the transitions, the first goal that ended up going into space, we solved that well. I would even dare to say that on a set piece. The elements that Poland has without separating us from the game idea, take it forward.”
Martino went on to reveal the expectations heading into the group stage, before labeling the match against Poland as ‘decisive’.
“The expectation is to play all three games in the same way. That does not depend exclusively on us, but on what the rival does. If we have supremacy regarding the way in which the party is going to develop.We must deal with Poland,” he said.
“Due to the characteristics of the group, this first game is likely to be decisive. You have to see if these tactical systems change the shape of a team. Neither changes Poland’s position in a match. What we have to do is recognize that the players know that the opponent is comfortable playing different tactical systems and know the solution. But the style of Poland is one and on that we prepare the match.”
Mexico kicks off against Poland before facing Group C rivals Argentina and Saudi Arabia. Though El Tri has historically qualified for the round of 16, reaching this phase in their last eight World Cup appearances, the pressure is on for Martino’s side given their opponents.