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Jun 18, 2014

Mexico's result against Brazil is about more than just Ochoa

FORTALEZA, Brazil -- Guillermo Ochoa made a series of superb saves, and by doing so he overshadowed Mexico's overall good performance in a 0-0 draw with Brazil on Tuesday at the Arena Castelao.

Ironically, the Mexican goalkeeper's heroics -- he saved at least three or four clear-cut Brazilian scoring opportunities -- received more media attention than the personality and the specific tactical game plan executed by El Tri in their second World Cup group stage game.

Ochoa played a great match, the best of his career, which catapulted him to stardom, but the most important part of the game might have happened elsewhere on the field, where Mexico fought on a one-on-one basis against the tournament host and big favorite, five-time world champion Brazil.

It's on this turf that the national team forged a tie, putting pressure on, cornering, and at times outplaying the Selecao. Ultimately, the mission of a team such as that of Mexico in a World Cup is to go out and compete, to play without inhibitions against the best in the world.

If Brazil has the potential to be the champion of the world, that is a different matter. Bringing discredit upon these football players or their performance -- which we could easily do -- would be to detract from Mexico's own performance during the match.

Mexico's impressive draw against Brazil was down to a strong team effort.

Yes, Ochoa was clearly the most eye-catching Mexican player on Tuesday, but it is also worth mentioning that this was one of the best performances of the Mexican national team in World Cup history. Mexico was an organized team with personality and character, focused on displaying their greatest strengths on the field and dictating pace and style of play.

We must acknowledge that national coach Miguel Herrera was right. First, he was right to choose Ochoa over José de Jesús Corona, and second, he formed a group of soccer players who fight for the same cause and defend it at all cost on the field.

Ochoa, or "Saint Memo," is the key figure of this outcome, but the real motivation could be elsewhere on the field.

And more important is that, ultimately, this is Mexico's main goal in the World Cup: to compete against the best in the world.

David Faitelson

David Faitelson is one of Mexico's most popular sports journalists, having worked for TV Azteca before joining ESPN. He is based in Los Angeles and co-hosts "Nacion ESPN," ESPN Deportes' version of "SportsNation." Follow him on Twitter @Faitelson_ESPN.