Croatia_1a

Croatia

Mexico

Play by play

FT: Croatia 1 – 3 Mexico || Well, that was exhausting. Now I know how Miguel Herrera feels. After some technical difficulties at the beginning were ironed out, it was non-stop action, especially in the second half. As it stands, Group A looks like this: Brazil finish top and will play Chile, the second place team in Group B. Mexico’s victory places them second in the group, which means they face Group B’s top team, the Netherlands. Both of these games should be a treat. Really. Croatia and Cameroon are now officially on vacation, where they can watch as much World Cup as they want. What else is their to say? Ah, Mexico. Man, I can’t say it enough. They were AWFUL during World Cup qualification. Embarrassing. Going through 100 coaches in 5 days was a sign that something wasn’t right. But this man below, the great Miguel Herrera, seems to have fixed things, much to the pleasure of Mexicans everywhere. And he knows it, which is why he celebrates like this. Enjoy today’s final shot of Herrera. There will be more. And thanks to Jorge Ramos, who left pleased. We think we’re going to have him again. Apparently, we’re good luck. Look out for candles with me on them. Have a good night, folks. 

REWIND: Miguel Herrera can’t stop reacting to goals. If only Mexico could have stopped scoring them. I worry about him excessively celebrating, but it seems to make him happy. And at least we get to watch him celebrate, right? #CantStop

REWIND: Chicharito goal. I know. Chicharito. Goal. I know. Is the Crown Prince back? Maybe. He seems to want to be, though.

REWIND: Reaction to Guardado’s goal. Herrera gets intimate.

Mexico made it!!!! Sí se pudo!!!!! Yes we can!!!!!

REWIND: Guardado with the second. This is where Croatia probably starts crying.

No question… The Mexican team for this World Cup is so different from the one that barely classified. This is a winning team!!!!  Fans singing “Cielito Lindo”… Canta y no llores!!!!

REWIND: Here’s Herrera reacting to Marquez breaking the game open. Is he happy or is he happy? The latter, probably.

Ante Rebić gets a red for this.

And then his coach Niko Kovac looks like this.

The Mexicans are being gentlemen and have let Croatia score. Actually, not really. This was an incredible goal. Ivan Perišić starts play from just inside the Mexico half, playing a ball to the previously bored Ivan Rakitić at the top of the box. Rakitić holds the ball for several minutes while Perišić makes a long run into the box. He’s rewarded when he gets the return ball and slams it home past Ochoa. So much happening in this second half!

Get ready for the Angel de la Independencia….the happiest place on earth. 

Rebic expelled. Well deserved. 

San Memo is, still, one of the best goal-keepers of the World Cup. He just took his first goal from Croatia.

REWIND: Here’s Rafa’s first goal. Classic Rafa. How is this man still playing at this level? He’s been in about 44 World Cups already!

Brazil still ahead of Mexico in group A (more goals). That means Brazil will play Chile and Mexico vs. Holland. 

AGAIN! This time it’s Chicharito. Jorge needs to watch every game in the war room. A Guardado corner is met at the near post by Marquez, who, once again, uses his experienced cranium to flick the ball to the back post. Our Crown Prince is there—because Ivan Rakitić apparently doesn’t want to be bothered with marking—and he kills the game off. 3-0 Mexico. Let the celebrations begin.

Croatians already crying in the stadium

CHICHARITO!!!!!!!!!!

Great play by substitute Ante Rebić, who cuts through several Mexico defenders on the left side of the box. He plays his final ball to the far post, beating Memo Ochoa. Crazy, I know; no one beats Memo Ochoa. But Héctor Moreno rides to the rescue, sliding to clear the ball from the goal line. All is well back in Mexico. Hearts have returned to their normal, excited heart rates.

AGAIN. MEXICO AGAIN. Former Crown Prince Chicharito starts the play centrally, playing the ball wide to Oribe Peralta. Peralta plays the ball back across the box to an awaiting Andrés Guardado. Guardado knows what to do. And it is 2-0 Mexico. As it stands, Mexico are progressing and Croatia is out. Herrera GIFs coming!!!!

Mexico 2-0… that’s what you need to hear el “Perro” singing. 

Mexico!!!!!

If you are in Mexico right now, tell your boss you’re not going back to work this afternoon 

#Justice4Mexico. Who else but Rafa Marquez.! He rises to get his very experienced head on the end of a corner. As you can tell, Jorge is excited. Mexico deserved that. 1-0 Mexico.

Please, somebody help El Piojo…his head is about to fall off.

Marquez, Marquez, Marquez, Marquez, Marquez, Marquez, Marquez, Marquez

Gooooooooooooooooooooooollllllllllll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And we have to end this with Miguel Herrera. Because we always have to. He disagrees with the call.

It’s so much fun to listen to the game on Univision…like going to a party. In English it sound like, well, just another game

Chicharito clearly had an opinion on the missed call. My sense is that he’s telling the referee that he made the right decision and that he respects that he has a difficult job to do. How sensible, right?

“Perro Bermudez”: For the first time in a World Cup, Mexico would pass to the next round without taking a goal

What a sequence. Paul Aguilar smokes Danijel Pranjić on the endline to the right of the goal and plays a cross that finds Guardado. Guardado tees up a shot that hits the arms of Darijo Srna. It was a clear hand ball as Jorge mentioned. But the referee points to a corner kick. Shame. 

Mexico pushing hard right now. Mexico, definitely, is the home team. 

The Croatian defense used two hands to stop the ball!!!

Penalty!!! I can’t believe it wasn’t called. The defense used BOTH hands.

Former Mexican Crown Prince Chicharito has entered for Gio Dos Santos.

If Chicharito is the best player in the Mexican team, how come he only plays at the end of each game? 

I don’t know what this means, but everyone needs Miguel Herrera screenshots.

And this Herrera GIF. Use it often.

Chicharito!!!!

Spain and England have the best soccer leagues in the world…but their teams didn’t make it to the second round. 

Hector Moreno: “We will see on the field who has better players and who has a better team, and I fully trust it will be Mexico.” 

The tempo has slowed some since the first half. It has to, doesn’t it? All throughout the World Cup, teams have been playing as if they’re playing their last game. Finally, the pace is slowing. If these teams want to continue walking, let alone playing in the next round, I’m not sure they can afford to continue treating the World Cup like a track meet. But, if they do, I won’t complain, because this is the most entertaining World Cup in recent memory. Hands down.

Piojo’s wisdom: “If we got a draw with Brazil, with luck of without it, we did it. Croatia didn’t” 

This is what Croatia’s coach, Niko Kovac, said before the game: “If anybody’s knees should be trembling, it should be the Mexican defense’s.”   

While Jorge is asking important questions about government spending, I’m contemplating who else would be on that plane, and if Rihanna has a picture with the plane. Rihanna has a picture with just about everything and everyone.

Brazil and Brazilians, finally, are enjoying their World Cup. The game against Cameroon is a party. 

We’ve spent the early stages of the second half  in Mexico’s half. A corner kick, a free kick, cries of the “P-word” after each kind of kick. It’s just like we left it, guys. 

If a President goes to the World Cup, usually the government pays for the trip. But what happens if his wife is the one traveling? Is there a private plane involved? Just asking. 

Will it work? We have 40 more minutes to find out.

We spotted something during halftime. Héctor Herrera and Luka Modric. Just saying. It’s worth taking an Ancestry.com test, probably.

Gather. The second half has started. The teams have switched sides, as they tend to do.

However, maybe this tweet from our partner in blasphemy explains how things manage to function when we are all watching the game. I do this often: leave work to watch a game, and then pray that my absence won’t cause the collapse of an entire economic system. Usually, it works.

https://twitter.com/TheTweetOfGod/status/481179054926614529

Here’s a shot from Mexico. It raises an important question that comes up during every World Cup: If everyone is outside watching soccer and partying in the middle of the day, who’s watching the stock exchange?! This is why we have problems, guys. We all can’t watch the World Cup. 

Meanwhile, on the streets of Recife, people are hydrating. That’s water, guys.

HT: Croatia 0 – 0 Mexico || It has been an opening, entertaining half—the kind of soccer we’ve come to expect from Mexico at this tournament. Croatia, who look much improved from Day 1 when Mandžukić was suspended, are playing Mexico’s game, but they’re perfectly capable of doing so. Mexico have already been in an immensely entertaining scoreless draw with Brazil. They are now 45 minutes into their second. As it stands, they’re the World Cup’s Kings of the Scoreless Draw. Someone make those t-shirts.

And then the action flows the other way. It’s Croatia’s turn to attack, and they have been, but Guardado has other ideas. He takes down Darijo Srna and then the two share words, probably about where they are dining later tonight. These are typical conversations on a soccer field. You can tell they’re passionate about the topic.

Half-time. If things stay the same at the end of the game, Brazil will play against Chile and Mexico vs. Holland. 

Croatia’s box has been inundated with Mexican bodies. When Mexico attack, they do so with numbers. There have been scrambles in the box, a Croatian hand ball outside the box that wasn’t called, several shots that have gone just wide and injured, innocent birds, that were simply flying when stuck by . It’s a chaotic game, but the best, most entertaining soccer is in need of ritalin.

The great thing about Piojo Herrera’s face is that you ALWAYS know what he’s thinking. 

Andrés Guardado does some good work down the left side, skinning a Croatia defender and earning a corner. Herrera’s corner is headed out for another corner. His next corner ends with ball squirting out and a Croatian break. There’s a yellow card coming. Ivan Perišić leads the break and Rafa Marquez ends that break. With poor tackle. Some call it a professional foul. Darijo Srna’s free kick flies over the goal to cries of the P-word.

Everything is ready at the Angel de la Independencia, on Reforma avenue, for the celebrations if Mexico classifies. 

Right now is a good time to cross Mexico City in just 30 minutes. It hasn’t happened in years. The country’s street are empty.  (Almost) everybody is watching the game. 

Brazil 2-Cameroon 1

Patriotism, ladies and gentlemen.

Mexico’s first lady, Angélica Rivera, is at today’s game in Recife. She’s wearing a Gio Dos Santos jersey. I’m not sure what to read into that. Jorge asks the hard-hitting questions, though.

Mexico’s first lady is in Brazil watching the game. Who pays for that trip? 

Brazil-Cameroon 1-1. This is a surprise. Brazil was supposed to easily win this World Cup. Mexico-Croatia still tied. If nothing changes (quite improbable) Brazil and Mexico would pass to the next round. 

The politics of the P-word. These fans have a message to FIFA. These are the battles people fight.

The game has settled down somewhat. But there’s still a nice rhythm to the game. It’s back and forth, just like the Brazil-Mexico game, and not like the Brazil-Croatia game. The common denominator: Mexico have been entertaining and attacking in every game. They haven’t changed much today. This game could end up 45-34. Or 0-0. Or anything in between. 

Logic doesn’t work that well when playing soccer. Croatia won 4-0 against Cameroon. Mexico only did 1-0 against the same team. 

Soooo difficult to translate all the nicknames from the Mexican team: Piojo, Cepillo, Chicharito… 

Here are a few reactions to that Herrera chance:

And, ALWAYS, most importantly, Miguel Herrera.

While most of the action has been in the Mexico half, that didn’t stop Herrera from letting a left-footed rocket fly from outside the box that hits the post in the upper-right corner. It’s a stunner. This game is shaping up nicely as a track meet, reminiscent of pretty much every other game we’ve had in Brazil.

What happened to Piojo’s tie? 

Even if you don’t speak Spanish, you got to hear the narration by “Perro” Bermundez. It’s just fantastic. (Only on Univision) Also check Felix Fernandez, a former goal-keeper and a great analyst. 

This is Rafa Marquez fourth World Cup. He was part of the Mexican team that won against Croatia in 2002. 

Ay Herrera!!!!!!

We’ve had a few technical issues, but we seem to be back now. Modric comes off for a second after taking this knock. While we were M.I.A., I’ve been watching the game, of course, and watching Jorge react to Mexico fans chant “P …..” He’s not a fan. Neither am I. 

Mexican fans singing “Cielito Lindo”… that sounds better.

The big concern for the Mexican team is that Croatia will be as challenging as Bosnia was during a friendly right before the World Cup. Mexico lost to Bosnia. Hopefully it’ll be a different story this time. 

In Mexico many call him “San Memo”. He hasn’t taken a single goal. Incredible that for many months he wasn’t part of the team. 

The Mexican fans clearly didn’t mind chanting “P…..” again. Homophobic? Of course. 

Which team is more patriotic?

Croatia? Notice the close eyes.

Or Mexico?

The referee today is Uzbek Ravshan Irmatov. According to FIFA—and we haven’t independently verified this—Irmatov’s hobbies include football (also haven’t verified if this is NFL, NCAA, or high school), swimming, and tennis. Irmatov was in charge of the Switzerland-Ecuador match on Day 4. If you missed that live-blog, then you missed him talking about a tactical approach to something or other. I didn’t really watch more than a few seconds of this. This link is not an endorsement.

Anthem for Mexico. I’m going with Mexican rock/rap band Molotov. The video for “Amateur” is something that may resonate with anyone who saw Mexico play during qualifying. But those days are long gone. This is a very different Mexico than the one we saw only several months ago. Please take off your hat.

Anthem for Croatia. Some Croatian rock band called Vobler. This song is called “Pomiri se s tim” and it feels wonderfully emo, so be careful. Again, the disclaimer: if this song is actually about craziness, then [insert meaningless “I’m sorry you were offended” apology]. Also, I wasn’t raised well. Actually, that’s not true. Sorry, mom.

Croatia, in one minute.

And here’s Mexico.

Here are the lineups for Croatia-Mexico:

Mexico are on four points, tied with Brazil at the top of Group A entering today’s game. Their opponent, Croatia, is on three points. Basically, if either team wins today, they will be going through to the knockout round. Technically, there are ways out of the group for both teams if they draw today, but we’ll get into that if need be. Thus far, Mexico’s defense has not had to deal with a broad, powerful, technical forward like the one they’re facing today. Bayern Munich’s Mario Mandžukić, who was suspended for Croatia’s opening game against Brazil, was back for the Cameroon game. He scored twice. How Mexico handle him will go a long way to determining how this game plays out.

Now let’s get to this game. Mexico. Dismal. Atrocious. Gag-inducing. They were terrible during qualifying. They barely qualified for the World Cup, having to play a home and away series with New Zealand in order to book tickets to Brazil. But since they arrived in Brazil under coach Miguel Herrera, we’ve seen a new Mexico—a Mexico that devoured a weak Cameroon team, and then exploded against hosts Brazil. It was a scoreless draw, but the way Mexico attacked the Brazilians was a sight to behold. They were excellent getting forward. But at the back, goalkeeper Memo Ochoa may have been the star man, stopping point-blank shots from the Brazilians like he was fitted with a bulletproof vest. I suppose that’s how you end up with your face on the back of someone’s head.

Today, we have a very special guest joining us on the live-blog: Jorge Ramos, host of Fusion’s “America with Jorge Ramos.” He’s on twitter at @JorgeRamosNews. You’ll probably be familiar with Jorge’s laundry list of accomplishments and accolades. As a journalist, author, and anchor, Jorge has sat down with presidents, business leaders, and notable figures across a slew of industries and movements. But today, he gets to sit down with me and live-blog Croatia-Mexico. He’ll be our resident Mexico expert today, sharing general insights and observations about the game. Exciting, right?

Croatia vs. Mexico. If Netherlands vs. Chile, earlier today, was the appetizer for today’s meaningful games, I submit that Croatia’s encounter with Mexico, at Arena Pernambuco in Recife, is the main course.