Mexico’s Attackers Were Sick Against Germany. No Really, They Had The Flu

Remember Michael Jordan’s flu game in the 1997 Finals, when he scored 38 points to will Chicago to a 3-2 series lead over Utah? Well, while Germany left back Jonas Hector stayed home to recover from a cold, Mexico attackers Carlos Vela and Chucky Lozano were slicing through the Die Mannschaft defense while emulating MJ — playing with guts while puking up said guts.

All right, it wasn’t that dramatic, and we don’t know the full extent of what caused Hector to miss the match, but El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio revealed Mexico’s squad was suffering from the flu during its already legendary 1-0 win Sunday.

“We’ll give (the starters) the chance to recover not just from the exertion of the game, but also from a small flu that has affected the group, from which almost all the players are now recovering,” Osorio told ESPN. “A number of the players were unwell, and that’s one of the reasons we took into consideration with the substitutions around the 60th minute.”

With Mexico really laying into Germany on the counter throughout the opening hour, the influential Carlos Vela was substituted for Edson Alvarez, a move that was widely questioned at the time given the LAFC man’s near-perfect display.

In the 66th minute, match-winner Chucky Lozano was substituted for Raul Jimenez — another sub which may have had something to do with recovering from the flu. Chucky put in an all-action display on the pitch, and he was visibly shattered toward the end of it. 

Regardless, the substitutions did Mexico no harm. If anything, El Tri should’ve added to its lead in the final 30 minutes. 

Having seen the balance and resulting fluidity Mexico struck against Germany, Osorio claimed he won’t change much for the upcoming matches against South Korea and Sweden while also hitting back against his tinker-man reputation.

“I think the debate about rotations is one that doesn’t stand up,” Osorio said. “I’ve stated on many occasions that in the games with points at stake that seven or eight players, or even nine players, are always there, and (against Germany) that was not the exception. I think that when we really analyze it, a team that normally has seven, eight or nine (regular) players shows consistency in its starting XI. However, there is always the possibility of two or three tactical alternatives, without any doubt.

“With (Sweden’s) well-defined 4-4-2, they will leave very little space behind the defensive line. Hirving at speed is such an influential player; without space, when he can’t use his speed, we get into the debate over whether we need a winger that can succeed more through craft than speed. I think all that is debatable.”

Mexico returns to action on Saturday, June 23, against South Korea at Rostov Arena. El Tri finish group play against Sweden on Wednesday, June 27, at Ekaterinburg Arena. Mexico and Sweden currently top Group F with three points each. Germany and South Korea will enter the second round of matches in desperation mode (and I don't mean that they're swiping right on every person they see on Tinder).

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