At the blink of an eye, we are closing in on the 2018 World Cup. It seems like just yesterday Brazil opened up the 2014 edition with an own goal before Germany claimed the title via Mario Gozte’s goal against Argentina.
Either ways, it’s time that we prepare ourselves for excitement, tears of joy, heartache, and fear of disappointment. No other team can say any better than Mexico’s national team. For the 7th time in a row, El Tri qualified for the World Cup. Those seven consecutive qualifications warrant a prize for them, as those have been the highlights since the 86’ World Cup. Everything after that has been a walking disaster for the team.
After a brutal campaign on the road to Brazil, Mexico barely got in thanks to former Club America coach, Miguel Herrera. El Tri drew the honor of being in Group A against the host, Croatia, and Cameroon. Of course, the real obstacle was the host. The last time they faced each other was a year prior in the Confederations Cup. Brazil swept the floor with the poorly built team.
Somehow, Mexico shocked us all in their match against Brazil. A 0-3 was the realistic expectation for this encounter. Instead, El Tri held their own for a 0-0 draw.
The matches against Cameroon and Croatia were easy, with Mexico making it into the next round in 2nd place. Their opponent were the 2010 runner-ups, the Netherlands. Once again, Mexico played an amazing game and they were minutes away from making it into the quarter finals, after Giovani Dos Santos scored at the 48th minute. Come two minutes away from stoppage time and the Dutch scored. Mexico had to play a more defensive game and force the match into extra time. No, not today. With stoppage time coming to an end, Argen Robben drew a penalty via flop. For anyone familiar with the Bayern Munich star, he has built a career on flopping, mainly to draw penalties. Either ways, the penalty was successful and Mexico was eliminated; thus ‘No Era Penal’ was born. For El Tri, it’s another day at the office.
Apart from winning the tournament itself, other accolades add to the sweet taste of victory. For example, in 2014, Germany became the top scoring team. During the massacre of the host, Miroslav Klose scored his 16th World Cup goal to break the previous record of 15 held by Brazil’s Ronaldo.
How about Mexico? Surely after multiple World Cup appearances, they should have some records. All that can be said is that it looks bad for the CV. As of right now, El Tri holds the record for most consecutive losses, at nine; between the 1930 and the 1958 World Cups. On top of that, they have conceding goal records, nine consecutive matches in which they conceded at least two, and five consecutive matches in which they conceded at least three. That’s not enough, as they share a record with Bolivia at three; most consecutive matches conceding at least four goals. To top it off, they have the most losses in World Cup history
Let’s be realistic. It’s not just the World Cup, but other tournaments as well. Sure, Mexico has won countless CONCACAF Gold Cups, but for a team that is suppose to dominate the confederation, it’s mostly a tough road for them. Last year, the champions bowed out in shame at the hands of Jamaica; out of all teams. Don’t forget about their disastrous Copa America runs. In the 2015 Copa America, El Tri was drawn into Group A; with the Chile (the host), Bolivia, and Ecuador. If there’s anything Mexico proved, it’s that they are one of them most inconsistent teams ever. First, Bolivia somehow fought for the draw. Then, there was a glimmer of hope as the eventual champions and Mexico beat each other to the ground with a 3-3 draw. In their final match, all that El Tri had to do was beat Ecuador by two goals without conceding any. Instead, it was the complete opposite, which led to elimination. Miguel Herrera’s excuse was that he was saving the better squad for the Gold Cup, for the following month. Mexico won the Gold Cup, but at the cost of losing Herrera due to his own stupidity with a personal issue. Then, there was last year’s Gold Cup. Here was when Mexico could have added more CONCACAF gold to their legacy. No, instead they were eliminated by Jamaica and the US managed to regain the championship.
The Copa America Centenario was their next shot at gold. So, here it was, a chance to redeem themselves from last year. Surprise surprise. Mexico dominated their group. Then came the dreaded knockout stage. Who was their opponent? None other than Chile, in a rematch from last year. Actually, this wasn’t a rematch, as La Roja demolished El Tri 7-0. If Chile had not decided to slow down, Eduardo Vargas could have easily scored a 2nd hat-trick. As if that wasn’t enough, the US national team trolled El Tri on Twitter, “We’re proud to represent CONCACAF in the Copa America semifinals”.
How about their previous World Cup ventures? We know about 2014. Let’s dig deeper. Argentina (2010 and 2006), the US (2002), Germany (1998 and 1986), and Bulgaria (1994, via penalty shootout) hold the honors of eliminating Mexico in the Round of 16, for six straight World Cups. Mexico’s last successful World Cups were in 86’ and 70’; as they were held on Mexican soil.
In recent history, Mexico has shown everyone that they are simply an illusion of a championship worthy team until they reach the second round. The reality of the matter is that the last couple of generations pale in comparison to their 90s and 80s predecessors. Those squads managed to make it to the quarter-finals of two World Cups, which is a pretty awesome feat. In 1998, they actually won the FIFA Confederations Cup and dethroned Brazil for their first FIFA gold. Post 90s, we have seen squads that haven’t lived up to expectations.
The current roster is made up of players in their prime or past it. Offensively, Javier Hernandez is at his prime and the star of the show. After him is Giovani Dos Santos a versatile forward (as a winger, attacking midfielder, and secondary striker); Carlos Vela and Raul Jimenez are good; at best, but still at their prime. Oribe Peralta is about to retire, so the offense is minus one. Jesús Manuel Corona and Hirving Lozano are still young, so there’s not much to say about them. Between the 80s and now, the last successful offensive players were Luis Hernandez, Jared Borgetti, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, and Hugo Sanchez. Rafa Márquez (age 39) is the remaining essence of the 90s legacy, as a defender. Post-90s, we haven’t seen a Mexican squad credible enough to be considered a challenge on a global scale.
Mexico was lucky enough to be drawn into the ‘Group of Death’. That’s right, they will be facing Germany, Sweden, and South Korea. The best part about this is the fact that the group will open up between the Germany and Mexico. Die Mannschaft’s Thomas Muller posses the biggest threat, as he’s a goal scoring machine in the World Cup. Then there is Sami Khedira, Julian Draxler, Toni Kroos, and Mesut Ozil whom are more than capable of extra damage. Realistically, we’re looking at a 4-0 win for Germany. Against Sweden and South Korea, and it’s half-and-half. You never know when or how Mexico can sneak in a win. The end result is likely a group stage exit by goal difference.
It’s just the honest truth. History doesn’t lie. Sure, anything is possible, but don’t get your hopes high.