Just over 16 months ago, Mexico shot-stopper Guillermo Ochoa was hot property in Europe following a number of stunning saves throughout the 2014 World Cup. Some big teams, such as Premier League giants Liverpool and Arsenal, were desperate to land his signature, but he eventually ended up at La Liga side Málaga.
Despite the hype surrounding the player before he joined, Málaga coach Javi Gracia only saw him as a back-up to first-choice keeper Idriss Carlos Kameni. As a result, Ochoa has made just six appearances for his new club, all of which came in the Copa Del Rey last season – hardly the outcome that he would have expected last summer.
Perhaps it is just a case of heightened expectations off of the back of a brilliant summer. The Brazil World Cup was Ochoa’s third to date, having previously been named in Mexico’s 23-man list for the 2006 and 2010 events. However, he had yet to make an appearance in the prestigious tournament, until he was finally put between the sticks for the opening game against Cameroon, and boy did he impress.
Although, his finest hour came against Brazil, in a game that the host nation would have won soundly had it not been for a string of saves from Ochoa – the best being a bullet header from Barcelona superstar Neymar, which appeared to be destined for the back of the net, only for the Mexican keeper to get his fingertips to it and tip it around the post. The game could have quite easily ended 5-0 to Brazil without Ochoa’s contribution.
The Mexican was equally as impressive in the last-16 defeat against The Netherlands. Giovani dos Santos gave Mexico the lead, and it appeared that it was enough to secure progression to the quarter-finals, until Wesley Sneijder equalised with three minutes remaining. A late penalty kick handed The Netherlands the victory, but Ochoa’s outstanding performance was rewarded with the Match of the Match award.
Prior to his Malaga switch, the Mexican was plying his trade in Ligue 1 with lowly club AC Ajaccio. World Cup aside, Ochoa was hardly a match winner during his time in France, conceding 186 times in 116 games, and failing to stop the club from dropping down to the second tier in his final season. Had it not been for those games against Brazil and Holland, a move to Málaga, let alone Arsenal or Liverpool, definitely wouldn’t have been on the cards.
Before that, Ochoa turned out for Liga MX side CF América, and his tally there wasn’t any better, with 232 conceded goals in 182 games. Although, he did help the club to win the league, as well as the desired CONCACAF Champions League title.
That isn’t to say that Ochoa isn’t a good keeper. He proved in Brazil that he is more than capable of playing against the very best players, but it appears that he made a very bad decision in switching to Málaga. The player later told the Mexican media that he had been promised first-team football at the club, but Kameni’s form has consistently kept him out of the starting line-up.
If he isn’t going to be given the playing time, there is only one thing that he can do – move. Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet has come under criticism during the early stages of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign, so there is every chance that the club could reconsider a move for Ochoa.
Although, after his La Liga ordeal, it might be a better idea for the 30-year-old to opt to move to a side where he is guaranteed to be starting week in, week out. Despite the odd moment of brilliance, Ochoa hasn’t yet proved himself at a top club – and the smallest of mistakes could see him waste the later stages of his career on the bench..