France 0-2 Mexico

Posted: June 17, 2010 in Pubs, World Cup
Tags: ,

The World Cup is on! You can’t deny that Spain have kick-started the World Cup, although probably not in the way they imagined; since then it’s been open and exciting and awesome. There have been stories; Switzerland beating the overwhelming favourites, Argentina hitting four with a Higuain hat-trick, South Africa getting dumped out of their own tournament by some Forlan showmanship, Greece recording the first comeback win of the tournament and their first win ever at a World Cup, and now tonight’s glorious cup-tie of a game between France and Mexico. Games to remember.

This was a real do-or-die sort of match for both teams; France could probably have expected to go through with a draw here and a probable win over South Africa, but Mexico would have been determined not to allow that to happen given that they are to face the impressive Uruguay in their final group game. What emerged was an open, intriguing game in which the best team won.

I watched this in Barrio Central, the venue of Friday’s Uruguay v France game, and, being a Mexican bar, it was packed with green shirts. It was undoubtedly the experience of the World Cup so far for this whole international pub experiment. We got there nice and early which was handy, especially as the beer was £2 a bottle until 8pm. They have a big screen and a large tv on one wall; unfortunately I ended up pretty much squashed by that tv so spent most of the match leaning so that everyone else could see it, but there was a really positive vibe about the whole thing. Watching other countries is so different to watching England; there’s hardly any angst for starters.

The game got off to a bit of a flyer; Mexico not keeping the ball as well as they usually do but looking far more incisive; Dos Santos smacked the post from an offside position, another shot was fizzed just wide and Lloris had to hare off his line several times to clear loose back-headers from the French defence. At the other end Ribery in particular was busy but France couldn’t create. There was great noise every time Mexico ventured forward and as shot after shot flew wide the anguished wails increased in volume.

At one point a very drunk Mexican gentleman staggered into my general vicinity, looked around him, and proceeded to don a rubber horse’s head. I stared at it in something approaching amazement, wondering what the hell the connection was. The horse just stood watching the game. I tapped my mate on the shoulder and was amused at his reaction.

Half-time came and went. The horse trotted back to the bar. Thierry Henry was pictured on the bench, only his eyes peeping out from hat and scarf, clearly wondering what the hell he was doing there while Domenech twitched his improbably dark eyebrows. The camera picked out the entire French dugout, wrapped up in plaid blankets and missing only knitting needles to complete the picture.

Someone had snuck a vuvuzela into Barrio and, rather than blast it in a continuous drone, used it to incite a chant of “Me-hi-co! Me-hi-co!” which was taken up by all inside. And almost immediately the boys in green were in; a delicately dinked ball over the top, controlled by Javier Hernandez, the new Man United man who’d just come on. Was he offside? The commentary was drowned out by the screams of the Mexicans so there was no way to tell, but then you realised that Lloris was on the charge and that the flag had clearly stayed down. Hernandez kept his cool, danced aside the French keeper, and clipped it into the empty net to mass celebration on the pitch and in the bar! Get in!

More chanting and delight in the ten minutes after the goal, and then a few Frenchmen in the place struck up their national anthem in an impressive show of solidarity. But it was quickly drowned out by 10 or so Mexican women with their own anthem. I felt like I’d wandered into Casablanca, only in reverse.

Suddenly Mexico were in again, streaming into the box and clobbered by a French defender. Dive? Corner? Goalkick? The camera cut to the charging referee and it became apparent that the answer was “penalty”. Replays suggested it was a bit of a flop, but Blanco strode up and smacked a near-perfect penalty into the bottom corner; Lloris dived full-length but it was in the only 18 inches or so of net that he couldn’t reach. Barrio heaved in delight; not outrageous excitement, just the knowledge of a job done. The French were beaten.

The whole place was chanting Me-hi-co, Me-hi-co again as the final whistle blew and I toddled off home happy. For Mexico and their collection of excellent footballers, the second round surely beckons. For France, the guillotine and ensuing inquest. Echoes of 2002 when they departed without a goal; they have some marvellous players but they look rotten to the core.

Au revoir, Raymond.

  1. unikphoto says:

    Hello Raymond,

    Respecfully, I couldn’t have enjoyed the victory of my country anymore. I saw a disheartened French team, that never showed any of the magic portrayed in 2006. I’m shocked but after their game with Uruguay, I knew there was a great chance to beat the once world champs.

    Thank you for posting and I would be overjoyed if Mexico advances to quarter finals, we haven’t done it since ’86, but we always qualify for the 16 best since 1994, and hope 2010 is no exception, though Argentina is certainly a rival we would not want, it would be like we say in Spanish, “we don’t want to have a dance with the fattest in the party” 🙂

    martin from Mexico

    • ohibeans says:

      I’m really looking forward to the Uruguay Mexico game tomorrow night; both sides are practically through but it’s essentially a playoff for who can avoid Argentina so it should be a committed game. They are the two sides I’ve enjoyed watching most at this World Cup, and I’ll be supporting Mexico in the last 16 mainly because their fans were loud and fun in the bar I watched it in, but also because they play the sort of football that I can only dream of as an England fan.

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