By Noah Alvarez
Russia — 2018 has most certainly been the year of David and not Goliath.
In the Group F opening match between the defending World Champions Germany and Mexico, it was 22-year old Hirving “Chucky” Lozano that was the difference maker, scoring the match’s lone goal in an 1-0 upset victory against defending World champion Germany . The 5’10” left wing received a pass from Javier Hernandez in a 2-on-1 scenario in 35th minute of the first half and capitalized by firing it into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Before the game had even started, soccer fans across the world thought it would be a long shot for Mexico to finish with a tie, let alone a win. But players of the Mexico national team did not feel that way. Forward Carlos Vela said back on May 25th, that he believes Mexico can beat anyone in the tournament, including their opening opponent Germany – a move that would have made Joe Namath proud.
Despite Germany winning the possession battle 61%-39% and outshooting their opponent 25-12, Mexico was able to hold Germany scoreless thanks to an impressive performance by goalie Guillermo Ochoa, who recorded a World Cup career-high eight saves. Ochoa had a stellar 2014 World Cup performance and with his most recent shutout, he became the second goalkeeper in World Cup history with clean sheets versus Brazil (2014) and Germany.
The win Sunday also marked the first time a team from the CONCACAF (Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football) to defeat Germany in the World Cup. Teams from the CONCACAF previously held a 0-6-1 record.
For Germany, they became the third defending champion to lose their opening match in the following World Cup. The two previous teams, France in 2002 and Spain in 2014, did not advance from the group stage so they will need to bounce back quickly versus Sweden on Saturday.
For Mexico, upsetting the national champions will boost the team’s confidence in themselves and one another. Despite a large majority of the roster being well shorter than Germany’s players, they used their speed and quickness to their advantage. They had about four or five quality chances on counter attacks thanks to the play of forwards like Hernandez and Lozano and midfielder Miguel Layun.
Mexico will need to not get ahead of themselves and take care of business against first South Korea, then Sweden to make it out of the group stage. But with the three points from the win against Germany, they have to be feeling good in the driver’s seat of Group F.