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World Cup 2014 Guide: Mexico

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Mexico starting playing early in the 20th century, in several friendly matches. Their first ever game was a 3-2 win over Guatemala. The official governing body of Mexican football was then founded, and Mexico took part in their first ever World Cup in 1930. Losses to France and Chile in their group eliminated them from the tournament. Mexico would not then qualify for a World Cup until 1950. However, the Mexicans at little success at World Cups for some time, although in 1965 they won the CONCACAF championship for the first time. Mexico then hosted the World Cup in 1970 and managed to reach the quarter finals, where they were beaten 4-1 by Italy. However, the standard of Mexican football was steadily improving.

Mexico qualified for the 1978 World Cup but crashed out of the group after losing all three games. They then hosted the tournament again in 1986, and advanced from their group, once again reaching the quarter finals before a devastating defeat to West Germany on penalties. Mexico then faced scandal as they were disqualified from the 1990 World Cup after fielding ineligible players in the youth team. Mexico managed to then reach the next two World Cups in 1994 and 1998, but lost out in the last 16 round on both occasions, to Bulgaria and Germany respectively. The scenario was repeated for the 2002 and 2006 finals, where despite strong group showings, second round losses to the USA and Argentina (where they were stunned by a superb volley from Maxi Rodriguez) proved fatal. They also lost out in South Africa in 2010 at the last 16 to Argentina again. However, they defeated France 2-0 in their group in a memorable encounter for the Mexicans.

Road to Brazil

Mexico cruised through their third round qualifying group, gaining maximum points from a group containing Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guyana. Their displays in the next qualifying group which of a much poorer standard, winning just two out of ten games. They finished fourth in a play-off spot, behind the USA, Costa Rica and Honduras, drawing five of their matches, and failing to beat any of the teams above them. The Mexicans then thrashed New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate in their play-off to reach the Brazil finals.

Key Players

Mexico have a strong team ethic and the unity of their squad is key. They are strong from set pieces and are comfortable on the ball. Their talent undoubtedly lies up front, where striker Javier Hernandez has 35 goals for his country. Despite a season where he has struggled to get into the first team at Manchester United, he is still a potent goal scorer and a poacher. Giovanni Dos Santos is also technically gifted and, while he may not have yet filled his billing as the next world star, can offer the type of goal threat that Mexico will need in a tricky group.

Mexico’s Group

BRAZIL
MEXICO
CROATIA
CAMEROON

Mexico’s group will be tough but, in reality, they have a decent opportunity to reach the last 16 for a sixth finals in a row. While Brazil should top the group, Croatia and Cameroon will offer two very competitive and closely fought encounters.

Brazil’s attack and pace should be too much for Mexico to handle.The Mexicans will also have to be wary of Croatia’s attacking talent. Cameroon will wear Mexico down and could prove a hard team to break down, but if the Mexicans play as a unit and try to get their main star strikers on the ball and in promising areas, they will have a chance against them.

Prediction

Mexico will be hoping for another last 16 berth – their recent record in the group stages speaks for itself, and their experience of World Cup finals is usually vital. No one would be surprised if Mexico grabbed second spot, but the quality of stronger teams will surely be the end of their journey. It could also be the case that Mexico’s mindset could harm them. Will the fact that the last five World Cups have seen them put out at the last 16 play on their minds? If they focus and try to catch teams on the counter with their goal scorers, they could have a shot.

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