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Mexico's real test comes in round two

Mexico top World Cup Group D after the opening matches but whether they can live up to their ranking as the world's number four team remains an open question.
Snorts of derision greeted FIFA's decision to make Mexico one of the World Cup's eight seeds but a 3-1 win over Iran was an eye-catching start to their bid to make it past the quarter-finals for the first time.
Coach Ricardo Lavolpe showed considerable tactical nous, making an inspired double switch at half-time with substitute Zinha particularly impressive.
However, it took a defensive howler to break a 1-1 deadlock with Iran, who after a fruitful first half looked only to defend in the second.
"If Mexico plays like in the second half we can do well," Lavolpe said.
"We played an excellent game during that second half, with good use of the ball and giving us penetration. And with the defensive line, our goalkeeper didn't have to save anything.
"We have to have that for 90 minutes and not just 45 like we had in the first game."
Mexico already have one foot in the second round before their group games against Angola on Friday and Portugal on June 21.
But the real test is likely to come in round two, where Mexico have come unstuck at the last three World Cups.
Provided they qualify, the seven-time CONCACAF champions will face one of the two survivors from 'Group of Death' Group C -- probably Argentina or the Netherlands.
Captain Rafael Marquez acknowledged there was room for improvement after a nervy start to the tournament at a packed Frankenstadion awash with Mexican green.
"We have to stay calmer in the next games and make fewer mistakes," said the Barcelona defender.
Mexico will also be hoping for a less turbulent build-up to their next games after top-rated goalkeeper Oswaldo Sanchez came close to dropping out following his father's sudden death.
"It was a dream for us that Oswaldo (Sanchez) played. That gave us more stability. It was like a home game for us," Marquez said.
Bolton striker Jared Borgetti, whose 14 goals in qualifying made him the top scorer anywhere, hopes to be fit after limping off in the second half.
But Lavolpe has attacking options after a brace from 26-year-old Omar Bravo, which surprised everyone including himself.
"It's been one of the most emotional days of my career," said Bravo, who was named man of the match.
"To play in a World Cup game, score two goals and get the man of the match award doesn't happen every day."

Updated : 2021-10-18 16:55 GMT+08:00