Despite being a regular participant at the World Cup every four years, Mexico's national football team has never been able to get past the Round of 16, which it hopes to achieve for the third time in the Qatar 2022 World Cup.

Iran PressIran news: Mexico has become a regular participant at the World Cup every four years, but unfortunately, El Tri has been unable to get over the Round of 16 hump since 1986 and challenge the rest of the world's elite. They desperately want to achieve that at the Qatar 2022 World Cup, but their group stage draw did not do them any favors.

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World Cup draw: Group C

El Tri came up against a trio of tough teams from three different regions of the world. That list includes none other than Lionel Messi and Argentina, the defending South American champs who are currently on a 31-game undefeated streak and on a mission to win the big one for their captain who could be playing in his last World Cup. 

And if facing Messi wasn't tough enough, how about a date against perhaps a more lethal striker in Robert Lewandowski and Poland. And then, on the Asian side Saudi Arabia, it's facing a team that topped its qualifying group ahead of South Korea and Australia and only suffered one loss in its ten games.

Mexico has visions of "El Quinto Partido" (the fifth game) at the World Cup: in other words, a quarterfinal. It's been bounced in the Round of 16 in each of the last seven tournaments consecutively, a run that fans are fed up with.

The positive news is that El Tri has Gerardo 'Tata' Martino on its side for that matchup against Argentina. He's Argentine and once managed Argentina and Lionel Messi at Barcelona. If they can get something out of that game and then beat Saudi Arabia in a must-win group game, they can go into the Poland match with some room for error.

Based on their struggles with the likes of Canada and the USA, Poland might turn out to be the toughest team for Mexico in the group: They're a team that tries to outmuscle and outfight you, including on set pieces, where Mexico have proven to be vulnerable.

But even if Mexico manages to get through Group C as the second-place team, they would face a date against the top team in Group D which projects to be defending World Cup champions France. Another Round of 16 exit is very possible. 

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Past Glories

Unsurprisingly, Mexico's two best World Cup performances both came in the tournaments it hosted, reaching the quarterfinals in 1986 and 1970.

Interestingly, though, El Tri has made it through to the knockout Round in each of the last seven tournaments, but fallen in the Round of 16 in all seven. The journey has been a tough one beset by brutal matchups, knocked out over the years by powerhouses such as Germany, Argentina twice, Brazil, and the Netherlands. Still, disappointing misses at the hands of Bulgaria and the United States sprinkled in addition to the sting.

The goal, therefore, will be to advance past the Round of 16 for the first time since 1986 and progress to the quarterfinals.

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Mexico World Cup squad preview

This team lacks the star power of some previous Mexican squads, with the likes of Javier Hernandez frozen out and Andres Guardado struggling with injuries and increasing age.

Still, Wolves frontman Raul Jimenez leads the attack, supported by Hirving Lozano of Napoli. There is young talent as well, with Diego Lainez established in the squad at just 21 years old, while Julian Araujo is being introduced to the team at 20.

Tecatito Corona, playing at Sevilla, is a streaky player who can produce brilliant performances but also disappear at times. The biggest question mark is along the back line where veteran defender Hector Moreno is now 34 years old and the defensive talent to replace him has yet to truly get off the ground.

Much of the Mexican talent still plays in the domestic Liga MX, with just a few select players employed by European clubs.

Projected full-strength Mexico starting 11

4-3-3 (left to right): Guillermo Ochoa (GK) — Gerardo Arteaga, Nestor Araujo, Cesar Montes, Sanchez — Hector Herrera, Alvarez, Rodriguez — Hirving "Chucky" Lozano, Raul Jimenez, Jesus "Tecatito" Corona.

Mexico strengths

Mexico has a ton of experience across its squad, from captains Andres Guardado and Guillermo Ochoa to the starting attack that boasts three players from top five European league clubs with a combined 222 caps and 55 goals.

Mexico weaknesses

While the experience is a strength, it is also a weakness. Tata Martino has struggled to usher in young talent on a consistent basis, while injuries and inconsistent form are taking a toll. This has resulted in Martino's inability to maintain a consistent first-choice lineup. Squad chemistry could suffer.

Projected full-strength Mexico World Cup roster

Who is Mexico's head coach?

Gerardo Martino is an experienced veteran coach who has experience at the very top level, having coached Argentina and Barcelona in the past. However, his stints at both places didn't last long, and after bringing MLS Atlanta United early glory, he left for the Mexico post at the start of this World Cup cycle.

Things are always high pressure in the Mexico position, and a struggle to pick up wins against rivals United States has been a dark mark on an otherwise steady and successful stay with El Tri. Because of the spotty nature of this qualifying cycle, there's pressure to perform at the World Cup and get Mexico over the Round of 16 hump.


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