In the Box: Mexico impressing

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It's a week later and many are still talking about the Confederations Cup final between Brazil and Argentina. When it comes to world rivalries it doesn't get better than the games played between the two South American super-powers of soccer.

Goals from golden boot winner Adriano and Kaka within the first 16 minutes provided a stunning blow to Argentina who were never able to recover.

But it's not the final that I want to talk about.

It's the third place game between Mexico and Germany that proved just as intriguing and maybe provides us a glimpse into what Mexico will bring to the Gold Cup July 13 at Reliant Stadium and ultimately what both squads will bring to the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Who would have thought that Mexico would have had such a wonderful tournament despite the absence of Cuauhtemoc Blanco (apparently excused by head coach Ricardo LaVolpe to rest) and the small impact of Barcelona's Rafael Marquez who played sparingly due to injury?

The fact is that this is the most confident Mexican National Team that I have seen in a long time and it now all of a sudden seems less dependent on stars like Blanco and seems to have a lot more depth.

Being unlucky against both Argentina in the semis (lost on penalty kicks after overtime) and not beating Germany (thrilling 4-3 loss) is more than just about results. It is about Mexico going up against some of the best competition in the world and in the words of my friend Gustavo Rangel of Rumbo newspaper "competing punch for punch."

Mexico came into this competition with questions and left with concrete answers.

They have found that they can be dangerous without Blanco.

In fact Blanco was quickly lobbying through the press for his inclusion back in the squad obviously realizing how well the "tricolores" played.

How will Mexico's head coach LaVolpe fit him in the squad, will it be behind the twin striking partnership of Jared Borgetti and Kikin Fonseca who look so dangerous in the tournament? What are the risks? Will he be in Houston?

A great collective performance from a team can always humble a star and his level of self importance.

Borgetti proved that he is clearly a consistently dangerous player when supported with good wide play, in fact I would venture to say one of the most dangerous players in the air in the world.

When lacking that wide play and service you sometimes wonder about his worth to Mexico. The tournament proved that with him in the lineup you must play to his strengths and that means getting quality delivery from wide areas.

Mexico's physical strength in the tournament seems to have been upgraded thus accenting their great mobility and comfort with the ball.

LaVolpe successfully "blooded" a number of young players like defenders Gonzalo Pineda, Carlos Salcido, and Ricardo Osorio who proved they could deal with the likes of Argentina's Juan Riquelme and Brazil's Ronaldhino.

Oswaldo Sanchez of Chivas in goal who I have at times been critical of in the past looked as good as any stopper in the tournament and seems primed for a great World Cup.

One of my favorites in the squad that not only allows others to attack but provides a threat out of midfield is Pavel Pardo who with the Mexican National team re-creates his role that he plays at Club America the Mexican league Champions.

His ability to pass a ball over distance also is a threat to open games up quickly. With Marquez injured he handles the captaincy with ease.

The midfield also has numerous creative outlets like Brazilian born Zinha, talented Luis Perez, and Ramon Morales who was constantly a threat on the left.

With Mexico in fine form the "Reggae Boyz " of Jamaica are in for a test of tests on July 13 at Reliant Stadium. Expect changes from LaVolpe but expect to see many who performed so well at the Confederations Cup in Germany. 

Davis is a nationally recognized broadcaster for HDNET where he partners up with former U.S. National Team defender Marcelo Balboa. He was one of the lead voices for ESPN during the 2002 World Cup and has called major international soccer matches for the Fox Network as well.  He is a weekly columnist for the Houston Chronicle and hosts the "Soccer Hour with Glenn Davis" radio show on ESPN 790 AM every Sunday from 5-6 pm.  Davis played soccer professionally for the Houston Dynamos where he was a league all star selection and team captain.

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