Group F: Mexico hoping to break a six-time duck
Javier Hernandez and co have failed to make it past the second round six times in-a-row
Javier Hernandez has come back into form since joining West Ham and will be one of Mexico’s main men at this World Cup. Photo: Getty Images
Who are they?
The eternal second-round losers, Mexico have missed out at that stage on the last six occasions in a row and it’s now becoming a ‘thing’ in a country with a rich World Cup tradition. Not much is done in Mexico without drama and the World Cup build-up has been similar with questions being asked of manager Juan Carlos Osorio. Since hosting the tournament in 1986 they have not made the quarter-finals but this year the team is seen as somewhat of a golden generation with many star players in their prime. However, a likely second-place finish behind Germany would see them probably face Brazil in the last 16 so don’t count on them breaking that run just yet.
World Cup moment
The 1986 World Cup is remembered for many things – none more so than the brilliance (and the hand) of Diego Maradona – but it was also the tournament when Mexico reached the quarter-finals for just the second ever time while also hosting the event. A win over Bulgaria in the second round saw them into the last eight before a glorious semi-final appearance was denied only by the penalty shootout prowess of West Germany.
How did they get here?
Mexico coasted through qualifying by topping their group ahead of Costa Rica. The highlight came with a 2-1 win over the United States in Ohio at a time when Mexican-US tensions were at their highest. That loss also went a long way to ensuring their near (and not so dear) neighbours failed to qualify for Russia while Mexico booked their place with three games to spare.
Juan Carlos Osorio guided Mexico to Russia with little fuss but his competency in the job is under question in the build-up to the World Cup after losing 7-0 to Chile at the Copa America and 4-1 to Germany in the Confederations Cup. The 56-year-old is a former Colombian players and previously worked as a coach at Manchester City for four years from 2001 to 2005. He struggles with self-control and was suspended for last summer’s Gold Cup after being sent off at the Confederations Cup.
The main man
Guillermo Ochoa, Andrés Guardado, Héctor Moreno, Héctor Herrera and Javier Hernández are all seen as reaching the prime of their careers and they have the chance to prove that at this World Cup. Hernandez, in particular, is the key man after settling back into Premier League football with West Ham. The 29-year-old has scored goals wherever he has gone, including with the national team. In the green of Mexico he has netted 49 times in 100 games.
The one to watch
Hirving Lozano – known as ‘Chucky’ thanks to Mexico’s penchant for nicknames – has been linked to Everton after scoring 17 times in just 29 games in his first season at PSV Eindhoven. The 23-year-old also scored four times for Mexico in qualifying and is known for cutting in from the left to shoot with his right foot. Kind of like an opposite Arjen Robben.
Despite a tough group, Mexico will be fancied to get second place behind Germany. However, a likely second-round meeting with Brazil could see their last 16 losing run continue.
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Jesus Corona (Cruz Azul)
Defenders: Diego Reyes (Porto), Carlos Salcedo (Eintracht Frankfurt), Hector Moreno (Real Sociedad), Miguel Layun (Sevilla), Jesus Gallardo (Pumas), Hugo Ayala (Tigres UANL), Edson Alvarez (Club America)
Midfielders: Hector Herrera (Porto), Andres Guardado (Real Betis), Rafa Marquez (Atlas), Jonathan dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Marco Fabian (Eintracht Frankfurt), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy)
Forwards: Javier Aquino (Tigres UANL), Jesus Corona (Porto), Raul Jimenez (Benfica), Oribe Peralta (Club America), Javier Hernandez (West Ham United), Carlos Vela (LAFC), Hirving Lozano (PSV Eindhoven)