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Mexico, faced with the nightmare of breaking their streak and being left out in the group stage

It is difficult to understand how a country of more than 126 million inhabitants fails to give one in football. Mexico has an asymmetrical relationship with this sport because despite the fact that it is a success in audiences and in business, it has not managed to sneak into the elite list. Their best appearances occurred in the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, both at home, when they played in the quarterfinals. Since then he has stayed in the last seven tournaments in the round of 16. For the Mexican leaders, the highest aspiration is for El Tri to be among the best eight in the world, but winning the World Cup is not talked about except in advertisements. In Qatar the question is whether they will be able to move from groups.

Mexico has just an 11% chance of finishing first in their group, just a 32% chance of finishing second and a 57% chance of being knocked out in the first round, according to a data analysis by the EL data team. COUNTRY. This same simulator gives a 50% probability that Poland, the first Mexican rival, will be eliminated in the first round.

The coach on duty is Tata Martino. The Argentine led Barcelona from 2013 to 2014, without the fortune of winning the League, the Copa del Rey or the Champions League; he also directed the albiceleste team and his team lost the Copa America twice. His only trophy as technical director of a national team was a Gold Cup won with Mexico in 2021. Martino is the seventeenth coach of El Tri since 1986. Martino, Ricardo La Volpe (2002-2006) and Juan Carlos Osorio (2015-2018) are the only trainers to have a stable cycle. However, with Martino, doubts about his work increased due to losing the classic against the United States in different tournaments and having problems promoting the renewal of the team.

Mexico is the second country with the highest average age in Qatar, with 28.5 years. Martino favored the experienced rather than take a serious step in renewal. In the goal, for example, he closed the faucet of youth by calling the keeper Guillermo Ochoa (37 years old), Talavera (40) and Rodolfo Cota (35). In the Mexican defense, the change of post is already visible with the calls of Hector Moreno (34) and Nestor Araujo (31), added the youth players Johan Vasquez (24), Cesar Montes (25), Kevin Alvarez (23) and Jorge Sanchez (24). Another of the great veterans is Andres Guardado (36), who will play his fifth World Cup. The forwards arrive at their peak of performance: Raul Jimenez (31), Rogelio Funes Mori (31) and Henry Martin (30). The problem is that Martino clipped the wings of two young talents like Diego Lainez and Santiago Gimenez, both in training clubs in Europe.

Hirving Lozano controls the ball during a training session with the Mexico team, in Qatar.Moises Castillo (AP)

Talk about Xavier Chicharito Hernandez is superfluous at this point because he was erased from the team for various indiscipline acts that had caused the group’s annoyance since the last World Cup. Carlos Vela closed his cycle just when Martino had come to office. Apart from them and the 26 selected, Mexican soccer faces a problem in finding young talent. And, as if it were a novel, the enemy himself is at home: the Mexican League privileges clubs to play with up to nine foreign soccer players. With some instability, there are players who can be the light for Mexico. Hirving Lozano, the demon who runs through the wings in Naples, arrives at the tournament without injuries and at his best; Alexis Vega, the new 10, has already arrived as the boss of the left wing. Luis Chavez, surprise midfielder in the squad, has shown the finesse with which he touches the ball.

The challenge will be to survive the power of the best striker in Poland and Europe, Robert Lewandowski (this Tuesday, November 22, 10:00). The hard clash against the Poles will be the test of the Mexicans to show that the doubts in the qualifying rounds have already been dispelled. El Tri has already given surprises like in Brazil 2014 when they beat Modric’s Croatia and drew against the Brazilians. It is there where the Mexicans cling to believe in a victory against the Poles and to steal a few points from Messi’s Argentina. The match against Saudi Arabia has to mean a victory if they want to go through to the next round. The last time the country did not pass the round was in Argentina 1978 when they finished last in their group, where they met West Germany, Tunisia and Poland. Mexico has to play against the odds.

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