The Mexico vs Mali U-20 World Cup match will take place on Friday, June 28, 2013 (8:00 AM Pacific) in Gaziantep, Turkey. This is Mexico’s last chance to qualify to the Round of 16– Mexico must defeat Mali, and hope for favorable results in other matches. El Mini Tri’s only option is to qualify as one of the four best placed third places (16 out of the 24 teams participating in the tournament will compete in the knockout stage).
Mexico opened up its U-20 World Cup with a 2-1 loss against Greece. El Mini Tri followed that up with another disappointing loss, a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Paraguay. Nonetheless, due to the structure of the tournament, Mexico is still alive. This is what needs to happen for Mexico to play in the Round of 16:
First of all, Mexico needs to win, a draw or loss against Mali automatically eliminates them. After that first key step, two of the following scenarios must take place:
- El Salvador must lose against Colombia and Australia must not defeat Turkey
- The Egypt vs England match must end in a draw, or Egypt must win by just 1 goal
- Uruguay must lose against Uzbekistan
Mexico would also move on to the Round of 16 if it defeats Mali by more than 3 goals and 1 of the above happens.
As you can see, Mexico still has a small window of opportunity to salvage what has so far been a terrible tournament. Of course, none of the scenarios matter unless Mexico can actually win the Mexico vs Mali encounter. Given that Mali has drawn twice, allowed just 1 goal, and is still very much alive in the tournament, Mexico might very well be unable to even defeat Mali.
Mexico has twice struggled against teams that have “parked the bus”, reduced spaces, and done an overall good job at defending. In Mali, they will face yet another squad that will play a defensive setup, hoping to counterattack or score on one of the many defensive mistakes that the Mexican squad commits.
Mexico vs Mali Prediction
The Mexico vs Mali match will be another close encounter that will have a tight score. Mali knows that a draw might be enough to qualify them to the Round of 16. The African squad will also use Mexico’s need to win in their favor: they can play a counterattacking style and exploit the open field that Mexico will be forced to leave. Mexico will once again dominate possession, but the key will be whether El Mini Tri can actually score.
I predict the Mexico vs Mali match will end in a 2-1 victory for Mexico, which gives them hope to move on to the Round of 16. However, it will all be decided by Saturday’s matches, where Mexico will need to get lucky.
Mexico vs Mali Television
The Mexico vs Mali match will be televised on ESPNU and Univision Deportes on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 8:00 AM Pacific.