Projecting Mexico's Best- and Worst-Case Scenarios for World Cup 2014 Draw

Tom SunderlandFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2013

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - NOVEMBER 20:  A Mexican fan shows his support during leg 2 of the FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between the New Zealand All Whites and Mexico at Westpac Stadium on November 20, 2013 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Mexico head into Friday's World Cup draw as one of Pot 3's more fearsome outfits, having qualified for every tournament finals since 1994.

El Tri have made it to the Round of 16 in every World Cup of the last two decades and have been nothing if not consistent. They have never advanced past that stage in the last five tournaments, but it is some achievement to have consistently reached the knockout rounds.

Miguel Herrera's side was dominant in its most recent matches, beating New Zealand with an aggregate score of 9-3 in their two-legged playoff against the All Whites after failing to qualify automatically.

Looking ahead to Friday's draw, read on for a preview of the outcomes that Mexico should and shouldn't be hoping for, with either a dream or nightmare situation on the line.

FIFA's official Twitter account posted this picture of the four World Cup draw pots (click to enlarge):

 

Worst-Case Scenario for El Tri

Mexico Worst Scenario
PotNationWorld Ranking
1Brazil10
2Chile15
3Mexico20
4Italy7
FIFA.com

Mexico, like a few of its Central American cousins, is a team largely focused around its potential in attack with fast, counterattacking football often ranking as its main route to success.

However, fighting fire with fire can often work wonders in a tournament like the World Cup, and Brazil is another side whose attack is by far its best weapon.

Earlier this year, the Selecao triumphed over Herrera's men at the Confederations Cup, helping Mexico bow out of the competition at the group stage. Brazil would be more than capable of pulling off a repeat if the teams are matched at the World Cup.

Chile rank as Pot 2's biggest threat, irrespective of tactics, and was a force to be reckoned with in the latter half of CONMEBOL qualification, going unbeaten in its last six matches.

TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 19:  Members of Chile celebrate their lone goal against Brazil during a friendly match at Rogers Centre on November 19, 2013 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
Dave Sandford/Getty Images

Jorge Sampaoli's side has emerged as one of the shock contenders to watch out for in 2014 and, among a pot of African competition, easily ranks as the team nations are looking to avoid.

Finally, Pot 4 has a bevy of UEFA giants that one could say look fiercest, but it's Italy's calculated and strategically rigid style that could prove most problematic for Mexico, a nation whose flexibility often means that strict tactics can be their undoing.

Cesare Prandelli's men have shown their bright patches in recent years and managed to make the final of Euro 2012, always a threat on the big stage with which they are so familiar.

 

Best-Case Scenario for El Tri

Mexico Best Scenario
PotNationWorld Ranking
1Switzerland8
2Algeria26
3Mexico20
4Greece12
FIFA.com

In a dream scenario, Mexico would find itself pitted against Switzerland, a team that has left many scratching their heads as to how it's made its way into Pot 1 in the first place.

Despite boasting an impressive group record in qualification, the Swiss were fortunate to be drawn against easy opposition—Iceland, Norway and Slovenia ranking as the nation's biggest competition.

Algeria are a similarly easy choice from Pot 2. No African nation has ever made it to the semifinals of a World Cup tournament, and among the Africa minnows of that particular pool, it's the northern nation that sits as the smallest and therefore the most desirable opponents.

Vahid Halilhodzic's side only squeaked its way through to the finals after drawing 3-3 with Burkina Faso on aggregate in their Third Round CAF encounter, while the rest of the continent's representatives eased through in fairly confident fashion.

BUCHAREST, ROMANIA - NOVEMBER 19:  A fan of Greece shows his colours during the FIFA 2014 World Cup Qualifier Play-off Second Leg match between Romania and Greece at the National Arena on November 19, 2013 in Bucharest, Romania.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

Last but not least are Euro 2004 champions Greece, who, despite all expectations, somehow manage to spring some sort of surprise in nearly every major tournament they feature in.

Regardless, there's no looking past the Greeks as the weakest of Europe's nine Pot 4 inhabitants. Although four goals conceded over the course of qualifying does speak highly of Greece's defensive stature, El Tri have the potential to break down stern walls on their day.