Previous World Cup appearances: 16
Best finish: Quarterfinal (1970, 1986)
World Cup record: W16 D14 L27
Biggest win: 4-0 vs El Salvador (1970)
Player to watch: Raul Jimenez
Fixtures: Poland (November 22), Argentina (November 26), Saudi Arabia (November 30)
Mexico, a mainstay in the competition, are participating in their eighth consecutive World Cup and 16th overall. Only Argentina, Brazil, Germany and Italy have made more appearances at a World Cup than Mexico.
El Tri’s road to Qatar has been nothing short of bumpy, with hard-fought draws and narrow wins. The team, CONCACAF’s most successful, finished second in the eight-team qualifiers behind Canada on goal-difference.
They were unable to beat Canada and the United States, who finished third behind the El Tri, in both home and away matches.
Ranked ninth in the world, Mexico have never gone past the quarterfinals. In the last seven editions, Mexico were sent home at the first knockout hurdle.
For Mexico’s colourful and boisterous travelling supporters, reaching the quinto partido (fifth game) at the World Cup has become an obsession. But it will be no easy task to improve on their recent World Cup history as they are in Group C alongside favourites Argentina.
They will also take on Poland, whose attack is spearheaded by Robert Lewandowski, the winner of the Gerd Muller trophy this year for best striker. Lewandowski was crowned FIFA’s men’s player of the year in 2020 after scoring 41 league goals for Bayern Munich – a record for a Bundesliga season. El Tri will also lock horns with Saudi Arabia.
Mexico’s manager, the Argentine Gerardo “Tata” Martino, is expected to pick a mixed squad of experienced veterans and young players. Goalkeeper, 37-year-old Guillermo “Memo” Ochoa, is hoping to participate in his fifth, and most likely his final, World Cup.
Former Manchester United striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, 34, is hoping to board the plane but the country’s all-time top scorer has not had the easiest of relationships with Martino, a former Barcelona manager who also played for Argentina’s national team.
Martino has left Chicharito out of previous squads. In September, he said he will not take the diminutive forward to Qatar despite Chicharito having an impressive season in the MLS with his team LA Galaxy. If he makes it to Qatar, it will be his fourth World Cup.