Mexican football fans can be extremely proud of their team’s record of reaching the round of 16 at the last six consecutive World Cups. El Tri is a specialist at navigating the tricky group stage at the biggest tournament in world soccer and surging into the knockout phase. Unfortunately, it is also a specialist at losing in the last-16, having fallen at this stage at the last six tournaments in a row. Mexico now holds the record for the most second round eliminations in World Cup history. Juan Carlos Osorio’s men are in Russia this summer, bidding to break the curse, but can they finally reach the quarter-finals?
The draw has conspired against them, and it looks as though Mexico could actually extend its remarkable streak of crashing out at the round of 16. Osorio’s side has landed in Group F, along with defending champion Germany, plus Sweden and South Korea. Germany’s squad is teeming with world-class talent, and it is the second favorite to win the tournament, priced at +450 with big sportsbooks like Bet365, Bethard and Intertops. With a spine featuring Manuel Neuer, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil and Timo Werner, it is easy to see why. It has kept together many of the players that won the last World Cup and supplemented the squad with exciting young talent.
Even the most optimistic, diehard El Tri fan would be forced to admit that Germany – the number one team in the FIFA world rankings – is superior to Mexico. It is the -333 favorite with Bet365 and various other sportsbooks to win Group F and rightfully so, as it has not lost a competitive match in two years. However, it is also hard to argue with the notion that Mexico is the second best team in this group. Sweden had a decent qualifying campaign, and boasts a modicum of attacking talent in Emil Forsberg and Marcus Berg, but it misses the leonine presence of Zlatan Ibrahimovic – now retired from international football – up front. South Korea has no great footballing pedigree and, aside from Tottenham forward Son Heung-Min, it lacks quality.
Mexico, meanwhile, is blessed with a raft of talent in every department. Record goalscorer Javier Hernandez will lead the line with customary aplomb, while the likes of Giovani dos Santos and Carlos Vela provide a strong supporting cast. Hector Herrera is in the form of his life, and Andres Guardado completes a solid midfield. Mexico has the right blend of steel and flair, and it should be good enough to get the better of the Swedes and the Koreans. The top two teams in each group qualify for the last-16, and Mexico is expected to follow Germany into the knockout stages.
Mexico is -109 with Bet365 and Betfair to qualify for the last-16 of the World Cup, while Sweden is +138 and South Korea is +300. El Tri is likely to qualify in second place, and that would result in a round of 16 clash with the winner of Group E. That group features Brazil, Switzerland, Serbia and Costa Rica, and Brazil is all but certain to win it. Brazil is the most successful team in World Cup history and the +400 favorite with Bethard and several other major sportsbooks to lift the trophy this year. Neymar and co should make short work of their group rivals, and Brazil would then be the overwhelming favorite to beat Mexico in the last-16. El Tri’s long run of second round eliminations could well be extended to seven.