WORLD CUP FORECAST: Group A – Are Mexico there just to make up the numbers?

The Mexicans managed to avert a massive disaster when they overcame Oceania ‘heavyweight’ New Zealand in a two-legged qualifier in November.
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The Mexicans managed to avert a massive disaster when they overcame Oceania ‘heavyweight’ New Zealand in a two-legged qualifier in November.

El Tri had somehow fallen to fourth spot on CONCACAF’s hexagonal table after the fourth round of qualifying for Brazil 2014 with a paltry 11 points from their 10 fixtures.

That wobbly campaign included uncustomary scoreless draws with Jamaica, arch enemies the USA and Costa Rica at their capital colossus Estadio Azteca while they were also unforgivably beaten at the fearful stadium by Honduras.

Mexico’s capitulation at home, where they are usually unbeatable, and a hurtful loss to top qualifier the US in Columbus were the lowlights of their World Cup crusade which almost ended in tears.

24 straight home triumphs in World Cup qualifying preceded that run of outs and the scene was set for a massive effort against the All Whites in front of fans who were baying for blood.

Liga MX-winning manager Miguel Herrera (Club America) was appointed to breathe new life into the flailing La Verde and he assembled an all-local line-up that produced a 5-1 demolition job on the Kiwis in the first leg which paved the way for a 4-2 salute in Wellington.

Thankfully, Mexico had avoided missing out on a sixth-consecutive World Cup finals but are they capable of making headway in the tournament proper when it kicks off in South America in June?

Mexico

Manager: Miguel Herrera

Fixtures: Cameroon - June 13 (Natal), Brazil - June 17 (Fortaleza), Croatia - June 23 (Recife)

Past outings against group opponents: Mexico have played three times against Croatia for one win and two losses. The last time they met was a 1-0 victory to El Tri at the 2002 World Cup in Japan while the Croatians have saluted two times in friendlies in 1992 and 1999.

The last clash with Brazil took place at the 2013 Confederations Cup in June with A Selecao winning 2-0 in Fortaleza where coincidentally they will meet again. Brazil have won 22 and lost 10 of the 38 outings between the two sides. Mexico’s WC record is three losses from three against Brazil, all occurring in the 1950s and 60s.

Mexico and Cameroon have met just once at senior international level with the North Americans getting the better of the African nation 1-0 in 1993.

Key players: Javier Hernandez (Manchester United), Giovani dos Santos (Villarreal), Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna), Andres Guardado (Bayer Leverkusen)

World Cup utopia: Equal best-ever quarter-finals finish.

Doomsday scenario:Winless in group stage. They can beat Cameroon and draw with Croatia but failing to do so will be inadequate.

Qualified by virtue of: Inter-continental playoff win over New Zealand.

Best result at a World Cup: QF (1970, 1986)

tribal’s forecast:

As previously stated, Mexico needs to open up with a win over Cameroon in Natal to be any chance of progressing to the knockout stages. It will be a miracle if they salute in the second fixture against the hosts and a minor miracle if they can grab a point before turning their attentions to what could be a vital final encounter with Croatia.

Anything is possible at the World Cup and if Herrera’s men double the free spirit and vigour which they have shown in attack recently with their customary defensive play, they could quite possibly sneak through to the Round of 16.

The climate in the northern part of Brazil, where the Mexicans play all their matches, could play into their hands but the battle-hardened Croatia may have them slightly shaded, suggesting that Mexico is set to narrowly miss out on qualification to the knockout phase on world football’s biggest stage.

Prediction: Group stage elimination

 
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