[MEXICO-FRANCE] American fans love to cite a 2-0 defeat of Mexico in the 2002 World Cup round of 16 as proof of superiority, but by other World Cup criteria, the southern neighbor comes out ahead. The 2-0 win over France on Thursday notches another European opponent in Mexico’s impressive World Cup record.
Going back to 1994, when it was grouped with three European countries – Italy, Ireland and Norway – and reached the second round, its performance against teams from that continent is far more impressive than that of the USA.
The only U.S. win against a European team since 1990 was the 3-2 upset of Portugal in the 2002 opener. (Mexico was banned from the 1990 World Cup qualifying program for fielding over-age players in a youth competition.) Including the 1990 World Cup, the Americans are 1-9-3 against European competition.
Here’s a look at what Mexico has done against European teams in each World Cup since then:
1994 –Won a group in which all four teams ended up tied with 1-1-1 records and four points. Beat Ireland, 2-1, tied Italy, 1-1, lost to Norway, 1-0. Mexico took first place on goals-scored tiebreaker (3-3). Lost to eventual semifinalist Bulgaria on penalties after 1-1 tie. (FIFA officially records this result as a tie, and so will we.)
Euro mark: 1-1-2.
1998 –Tied Belgium and the Netherlands in 2-2 games to advance as second-place team in group (also beat South Korea, 3-1). Lost to Germany in round of 16, 2-1, after leading, 1-0.
Euro mark: 0-1-2.
2002 –Beat Croatia, 2-1, and tied Italy, 1-1, to win a group that also included Ecuador. You know what happened in the round of 16.
Euro mark: 1-0-1.
2006 –Lost to Portugal, 2-1, finished second in group. Lost to Argentina, 2-1, in the round of 16.
Euro mark: 0-1-0.
2010 –Beat France, 2-0.
Euro mark so far: 1-0-0. (Euro mark in last five World Cups: 3-3-5.)
If the Mexicans advance, they will have progressed to the second round in the last five World Cups. The only other countries who can accomplish that feat at the 2010 competition are Brazil, Italy and Germany -- which is pretty good company.