The all-time World Cup

February 15th 2005
Mexico City, Estadio Azteca
1-1 (0-1)

      GOALS                   28'  0-1  Manuel Negrete
                              70'  1-1  Luis Suarez

      REFEREE                 Pierluigi Collina (Italy)

      ATTENDANCE              108,000

      YELLOW CARDS            Camacho, Migueli (SPA) - Vazquez-Ayala (MEX)

      SPAIN (Coach: Miguel Munoz, system 4-3-3)

       1 Ricardo Zamora
      20 Juan Segarra
      18 Miguel Bernardo Migueli
       6 Fernando Hierro
       2 JosÚ Antonio Camacho (captain)
       8 JosÚ Miguel Michel             (-77)
      10 Luis Suarez
       3 Rafael Gordillo
      13 Estanislao Basora              (-81)
       7 Raul Gonzalez Blanco           (-55)
      11 Francisco Gento

      17 Luis Regueiro                  (+55)
      14 Josep Guardiola                (+77)
      21 Victor Munoz                   (+81)

      MEXICO (Coach: Velibor Milutinovic, system 4-4-2)
       1 Antonio Carbajal
       2 Arturo Vazquez-Ayala
       3 Claudio Luis Suarez
       5 Gustavo Pena (captain)
       6 Ramon Jesus Ramirez
       7 Alberto Garcia Aspe            (-67)
      12 Salvador Reyes
       4 Ignacio Marcos Ambriz
       8 Manuel Negrete                 (-85)
      11 Cuauhtemoc Blanco              (-85)
       9 Hugo Sanchez

      20 Tomas Boy                      (+67)
      19 Carlos Hermosillo              (+85)
      14 Luis Hernandez                 (+85)


    Mexico needed a win to get back into the race for a spot in the second round. Still Milutinovic' team, with defensive midfielder Ambriz included in place of striker Enrique Borja, seemed to think more about their defence than during the match against the Soviet Union that they lost 0-2. With two men up front, Blanco and of course Hugo Sanchez, they started the battle with the Spaniards. Spanish coach Munoz wasn't so satisfied about his central defenders in the match against the USA, he took De Quincoces off and replaced him with Migueli, the big man from Barcelona. Sadly enough Butragueno had to withdraw during the warm-up, still hampered by the injury that he sustained in the first match. For him Raul won a place in the starting line-up.

    After staging Romania-Paraguay half filled, Estadio Azteca of course this time had a capacity crowd and the hysterical Mexicans screamed their team forward. The hometeam however acted rather precautious, as if they feared the counter-attack of Spain. Still Mexico had the better opportunities in the first half. But they discovered that beating a man of Zamora's stature was quite a thing. The great Spanish goalie turned away a low drive from Negrete and stopped Sanchez in a 1-on-1 duel. He made it look easy. Spain on their turn were close to scoring when Gento squeezed past Vazquez-Ayala and served Michel. The man who had opened the scoring in the opening match of the tournament, now shot it wide.

    No, it wasn't magic what Mexico and Spain produced, though entertaining it was. And in the 28th minute the team that deserved it most, scored the goal. Negrete set up a 1-2 combination with Garcia Aspe and released an unstoppable shot for Zamora: 1-0. It put Azteca on fire. Spain had to keep their heads cool and Fernando Hierro tried to take his team away from their own goal, to ease the pressure. But in midfield Suarez and Michel, the two gifted technicians, had a tough time. They had difficulties holding the ball, with too many fanatical Mexicans around. A few minutes before half-time Mexico were close to a second goal when Zamora for once had troubles holding the ball but he was back on track when Blanco tried from a narrow angle. At the break a marginal but deserved lead for Mexico.

    Spain had come to the Azteca to take one point. They had laid back in the first half but had to make the play during the second. Munoz substituted Raul, who had done nothing, with Luis Regueiro who had made a huge impression during World Cup 1934. They played more over the flanks now and Mexico had to go back. Carbajal had to parry a swerving shot by Suarez and did well to keep it out, a few moments later a cross from Gordillo fell behind him, but also just over the bar. Mexico now couldn't do much more than try to counter quickly, but Spain defended well this time. And when a striker went through, they didn┤t hesitate to use the emergency break. Migueli dragged Sanchez down and got cautioned by Collina. Camacho underwent the same when he tackled Negrete brutally. It had become a tense match, Spain desperately looking for the equalizer and Mexico defending with all their might. But in vain. In the 70th minute Gordillo advanced along the outline. Pena intercepted his cross, but Suarez from the top of the box hammered the ball past Carbajal. That was 1-1, the score Spain would be really satisfied with. Munoz immediately took off Michel and replaced him with Guardiola, minutes later Basora was benched for Victor. It was obvious that Spain against any price wanted to keep this draw. Still they almost took the lead when Regueiro shook off Suarez and hit the outside of the post.

    Mexico tried at the end, Milutinovic even brought two fresh strikers into the game with Hernandez and Hermosillo. But it was too little, too late for the green-white. Though Hermosillo went close in the dying seconds when Zamora tipped his powerful header over the bar. It ended 1-1, Spain got what they wanted. With 4 points and the possible win from the Soviet Union against the USA, not much could go wrong for them. Mexico had squandered a beautiful chance to go level with Spain and now were depending on the result of Soviet Union-Spain. Only a Soviet win could help them, but with Lobanovski's men already through it would be hard to believe that they could easily beat the strong Spaniards. Anyway, this had been a close and interesting match with the right result.

    Next Friday Holland and Uruguay continue their search for fame as they meet in Madrid. The winner will almost certainly qualify for the next stage. Holland has started overwhelmingly by beating the poor Koreans 6-0 and Uruguay beat Poland less convincingly by a Scarone penalty. A great match is expected with two teams who are technically among the very best. It will include very interesting match-ups, for instance between Neeskens and Francescoli, Andrade and Van Hanegem as well as between both captains, wizard Cruijff and defensive mastermind Nasazzi. Rinus Michels still doubts whether to bring Bakhuys or Van Basten, and also is not sure about Wilkes or Gullit. For the rest he isn't expected to change much to his side. Juan Lopez most likely will rely on his winning team, too. George Reader from England will be in charge.


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