Mexico has an intriguing road to advance past the group stage and into the knockout rounds of the upcoming 2014 World Cup.
During Friday’s much-anticipated draw, El Tri was selected to compete in Group A—which also features host nation Brazil, Cameroon and Croatia.
It’s certainly not the easiest group—as the Canarinho are 3-1 favorites to win the entire event, as per skybet.com—but there is a possibility that Mexico navigates through.
The first of its three games in the initial stage of the tournament starts on June 13 against Cameroon, as per FIFA. It is absolutely imperative that El Tri picks up three points here and builds confidence for the next two games.
There is every reason to believe that El Tri can navigate past Les Lions Indomptables to go into the June 17 showdown with Brazil with an unblemished record.
Cameroon is the longest shot in Group A to win the 2014 World Cup, with initial odds of that happening set at 1000-1. For reference, Mexico is currently installed at 150-1 to win it all.
Samuel Eto’o is dangerous at his striker position for the CAF third-round winners, but age is catching up to the 32-year-old star, and his supporting cast is less than adequate to be a real threat in this event.
A tie here would be a critical misstep, as Mexico’s next two games are much tougher.
Mexico will be downright fortunate if it can tie against the hosts. Neymar, Oscar and the rest of the Verde-Amarela lineup is absolutely loaded with talent and hungry for the country’s first World Cup victory since 2002.
Assuming Mexico wins and loses, respectively, in its first two games, it will likely come down to a June 23 matchup with Croatia to determine which of these two nations advances.
Croatia—like Mexico—narrowly slipped into the field this year, beating Iceland in a playoff to get the nod. It is a slightly bigger favorite than El Tri to win it all, going off at 125-1 currently, but this is as evenly matched as a World Cup match comes.
Shutting down Luka Modric will be imperative, as the Madrid midfielder is a bona fide star. Mario Mandzukic is also a serious weapon for the Vatreni and proved that he can score goals in international competition during Euro 2012.
Mexico can definitely win this game, as evidenced by their playoff victory over New Zealand. This side plays better with the stakes raised and has played some of its best soccer with its back to the wall. As long as Giovani dos Santos and Javier Hernandez are fit and in form, El Tri won’t have issues scoring goals.
It’s going to be tough, but expect Mexico to advance through by a single score in extra time.