Over the last few years, Mexico’s Guillermo Ochoa has written his name into World Cup folklore. The goalkeeper, who has had stints in Europe in Spain and Belgium, has predominately spent his domestic career close to home, enjoying two successful spells with America, but it is the international game where he has earnt cult status. Indeed, as the 2022 World Cup rolls on in Qatar, many neutrals were licking their lips at the prospect of seeing Ochoa back between the sticks.
While Mexico are usually underdogs in their matches, and no one looking at the odds to win 2022 World Cupare suggesting they will go on to lift the trophy, even when they host the next one in 2026, Ochoa's string of good performances throughout the last few tournaments are always enjoyable. Once a target of Liverpool, you wonder why domestically the keeper has never got the recognition he deserves, but he has been in his best form in the famous Mexico colours. “Mexico is there, in the Gold Cup Mexico, in qualifications and FIFA competitions Mexico has also been there,” he said.“It has a Confederations (Cup), I think it has more participations in World Cups.”
Heading into his fifth World Cup, read on, as we look at Ochoa's best World Cup performances over the last few tournaments.
Coming into the 2014 World Cup, hosts Brazil were expected to simply sweep Mexico aside. However, a dramatic game saw Ochoa make six saves and face 14 shots as the likes of Neymar and Hulk were left flabbergasted wondering how they could break the stubborn Mexican defence down. Everyone knew their role, and stood firm to earn a clean sheet at the hosts’ expense.
Despite Germany coming into this game as reigning champions, it was Mexico that stood firm in their 1-0 win as Joachim Low’s side failed the reimagine the form that earnt them the trophy back in Brazil. The Europeans peppered Ochoa's goal but the keeper made nine saves, including one where he pushed Toni Kroos’s free-kick onto the crossbar in dramatic style. The Real Madrid man was frustrated all evening as Mexico progressed from the group at Germany’s expense.
Mexico vs Brazil – 2018
Staying in Russia, and after making 25 saves throughout the tournament, Mexico were through. Their next task was to overcome Brazil again, and while they came up short, Ochoa was fantastic. There was more space for Mexico to attack this time around and had it not been for some big chances missed, they could have easily booked their place in the quarter-finals. Having nullified Neymar until the 51st minute, the world’s most expensive player eventually found the back of the net before Roberto Firmino put the game beyond doubt.
In the most recent edition of Ochoa's World Cup exploits, his penalty save ensured Mexico started their campaign with a draw and clean sheet against Poland. Robert Lewandowski, who had been in inspired form for Barcelona throughout the start of the campaign, was expected to fire his side ahead but a great save from Ochoa kept the Poles at bay, and Mexico hung on for a well-earned point.