Pablo Barrera showing improvement
In the first few frantic minutes of the match against Brazil last week, right winger Pablo Barrera dashed through the middle of the field with a spirited run that resulted in Mexico's first real foray into the attacking third. The movement was an indication of what was to come for the rest of the night, as Mexico pressed Brazil often on the counterattack.
It was a sudden and stunning moment, an announcement of sorts to Brazil that Mexico had come ready to play. That it had come from Barrera was something of a revelation.
It was the sort of dash rarely seen from Barrera, 24, in recent months -- at least since the Gold Cup -- and the type of run that could only come from a player who was in confident form, physically and mentally. Success has finally come for Barrera in Europe, now that he's forced his way into Spanish side Real Zaragoza's starting lineup, after having spent a lost year in 2010-11 with West Ham United in the English Premier League.
"I feel very at ease, very comfortable," Barrera said recently. "Now that I'm playing regularly, have scored my first goal, I feel more comfortable. I'm playing in one of the best leagues in the world. I feel calm. It's been a beautiful change for me. I feel happier now that I'm participating. It's on me to keep working hard to make sure things continue to go well."
Barrera started just six times and played a total of 14 games for West Ham last season and didn't record a goal or even an assist. Since Barrera arrived on loan at Zaragoza at the start of this season, he's already started five times and scored his first European goal on Oct. 1 against Villareal. Not surprisingly, the goal came on a counterattack where Barrera sprinted on the right side of the field, received a pass and then struck the ball with his right foot past the goalkeeper.
"I feel good, in good form right now, despite the fact that I mostly missed a year of action," Barrera said. "I learned a lot [in England] even though I didn't play much. It's been a great environment [in Spain], a lot of young players over there who when you arrive at the club welcome you. It's something so great to be playing again."