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Last Updated: Monday, 20 June, 2005, 07:25 GMT 08:25 UK
Mexico victory testament to rise
By Tim Vickery

Brazil's stars practically marked themselves, running too much with the ball and continually trying to force their way through the middle.

The full backs, so important in supplying width to the Brazil attack, were reluctant to push forward, fearing a lack of cover behind them.

But despite the deficiencies in Brazil's performance, Mexico's 1-0 win on Sunday is a result of some significance, perhaps the best that the men in green shirts have ever achieved in Europe.

Mexico currently has a claim to possess the best league outside Europe.

It can certainly boast more strength in depth than Brazil or Argentina.

The reason is economic. The South American clubs are exporters of talent.

Mexico has the financial strength to import; quality players from Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia and so on are enticed north by higher salaries, and the country can also attract foreign coaches.

Imported ideas and imported players have brought about a considerable rise in standards - and now it seems that the local players have watched, listened and learned.

Mexican players are also proving their worth in the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League

The Mexican national team have won victories over Brazil before. But usually their task has been eased by the altitude of Mexico City or the fact that they have been up against under strength sides.

Beating Brazil's galaxy of stars under German skies is something new.

Meanwhile, back on the other side of the Atlantic, Mexican players are also proving their worth in the Copa Libertadores, South America's Champions League.

Chivas Guadalajara are through to the semi finals after a sensational 4-0 aggregate win over Argentine giants Boca Juniors, the club who have dominated the competition in recent years.

The most fascinating aspect of Guadalajara's success is that it has been achieved without foreign aid. The club have a tradition of only fielding Mexican players.

An adventurous side, they showed the full range of their attacking options in building up their four goal lead in the first leg.

Then they gave evidence of the strength of their nerve in protecting their advantage amid intimidating conditions in the return match.

Guadalajara now go into the semi-finals suffering from the absence of several senior players who are with the national team in the Confederations Cup.

Even so, they are favourites to get past Brazil's Atletico Paranaense and move on to the final.

Going back 20 years, Colombia provides a parallel to what is currently happening with Guadalajara.

During the 1980s huge sums of drug money were being laundered through Colombian football, which consequently had the resources to sign up big name stars and coaches from all over South America.

Standards of play rose rapidly. Just as is the case with Chivas, there was a Colombian club - Atletico Nacional of Medellin - who at the time had a policy of not fielding foreign players.

Coach Francisco Maturana sifted through all the new ideas and techniques that were flowing through his country's football, came up with a distinctive local style of play, and in 1989 Nacional became the first Colombian side to win the Copa Libertadores.

Could it be that Chivas Guadalajara are following the same path?


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