Commentary

Mexico's World Cup draw? Well, it's 'complicado'

"Complicado" is Spanish word you'll hear players and coaches use a lot in terms of a match or series.

Yes, Mexico's World Cup 2018 draw is complicado. Definitely not impossible or difficult, but complicated.

World Cup 2018: Draw helps the hosts, spares others

In the new FIFA draw mechanism, El Tri earned a "second seed" so it should be favored to advance to the round of 16 as one of two teams in Group F.

And it should be favored against Sweden (despite the Swedes' victory over Italy in the European playoffs) and South Korea (ranked ahead of only Saudi Arabia and Russia among the 32 finalists).



Mexico's problem is two-fold: its opening game and its round-of-16 match if it advances as the second-place team.

El Tri opens June 17 against defending champion Germany at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, the main World Cup stadium. If it loses -- and it will be the underdog -- Mexico will have no margin for error in its next two games against South Korea in Rostov June 23 and Sweden in Ekaterinburg June 27.

World Cup 2018: Complete schedule

A bigger issue is that Mexico would face Brazil, the heavy favorite in Group E, if it finished second and Brazil won its group.

Indeed, Mexico could beat Germany in its opening game and sweep its group, but no one would remember if it didn't win its next game.

El Tri has reached the round of 16 in the last six World Cups and has lost every time. Only once has it won a game in the knockout phase: 2-0 against Bulgaria when it hosted in 1986.

Mexico in round of 16:
1994: Bulgaria (1-1, 1-3 PKs)
1998: Germany (1-2)
2002: USA (0-2)
2006: Argentina (1-2)
2010: Argentina (1-3)
2014: Netherlands (1-2)

Coach Juan Carlos Osorio and his players will be judged by one thing in Russia: whether they get over that hurdle at the start of the second stage.

Osorio acknowledges Mexico will be going up against the best team in the world: "Germany, the current world champion, with a system that’s not only enviable but sets the example for a lot of countries."

Joachim Loew is taking his third team to the World Cup and managed to rebuild the current team with a pool of players, as Osorio pointed out, is 35-40 deep.

Germany beat Mexico, 4-1, in the 2017 Confederations Cup semifinals, but Osorio said that result was deceiving.

"Remember in the Confederations Cup," he said, "we unfortunately didn’t have Carlos Salcedo or Diego Reyes, but I think if everyone is healthy and good athletically, we can compete against them and hopefully play this day with them." Also missing was Porto winger Jesus "Tecatito" Corona.

Osorio is confident in his team's ability but he said he is counting on divine support.

"We are going to ask the Creator," he said, "for that extra that one needs on our side."

2 comments about "Mexico's World Cup draw? Well, it's 'complicado'".
  1. Steven SIegel, December 2, 2017 at 8:08 p.m.

    There's a kind of discounting of Sweden here that doesn't make sense. They are legitimately in the World Cup over the Netherlands and Italy.  They have some seriousy great talent in center mid Forsberg and winger Claessen.  

  2. Bob Ashpole replied, December 3, 2017 at 5:24 a.m.

    I don't think it is discounting Sweden, so much as emphasizing that success in the opener against #1 Germany and finishing first in group is extremely important to Mexican fans. It is also the greatest challenge any team faces in the finals. Mexico will likely face both the #1 and #2 teams by their 4th match. 

    I cannot see Mexico playing for a draw, but getting a result is going to be Mexico's objective--not losing with style.

    For a team wanting to get past the round of 16, this draw is as difficult as it could get.  

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