Mexico Remains the Owner of Its Destiny in Brazil

Hugo Chavez BarrosoFeatured ColumnistJune 17, 2014

June 17, 2014; Fortazela, BRAZIL; Mexico player Rafael Marquez with goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa during the 2014 World Cup game against Brazil at Estadio Castelao.  Mandatory Credit: Tim Groothuis/Witters Sport via USA TODAY Sports
Witters Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Mexico was able to come out with a 0-0 draw against Brazil in Fortaleza and its chances to advance to the second round remain intact.

Not even the most optimistic of the critics and fans will have dared to bet that Mexico will have absolute control of its destiny after the second match of the group stage.

Coming into World Cup 2014, the hopes of Mexico going into the second round weren't the best for several reasons.

The Mexicans had a terrible 2013.

In CONCACAF's final round of qualifiers, Mexico won only two games out of ten. The historic myth of Mexico being almost unbeatable at the Aztec Stadium was destroyed when the Mexicans were able to win against only Panama and lost at home for the first time against Honduras.

Mexico wasn't able to acquire one of the three direct tickets to Brazil, and had to go through a playoff series against New Zealand. In the process of finally qualifying to the World Cup, Mexico went through four different coaches in three months.

Once known as the "CONCACAF Giant," Mexico seemed to be destined to an epic failure at the World Cup, as Miguel Herrera had little time to put together a team that fit his tactical scheme and had to rebuild the players' confidence.

Jun 17, 2014; Fortaleza, Ceara, BRAZIL; Mexico manager Miguel Herrera tosses the ball to Mexico defender Hector Moreno (15) during the first half of the 2014 World Cup game against Brazil at Estadio Castelao. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sp

In Mexico's opener against Cameroon, El Tri was able to overcome the Africans' game under the rain, the referees’ awful calls and ended up winning. The confidence seemed to finally come back and the faith of the fans and Mexican media was restored.

And, after the draw against the five-time world champion and host country, it seems like 2013 happened decades ago.

To get to the second round, Mexico needs only a tie against Croatia and that will suffice.

Mexico still needs to wait for Cameroon to play Croatia to know all the mathematical combinations that will get them to the round of 16. But it could also be that even with a loss in its last group-stage game, Mexico might advance—a combination with which Mexico is actually familiar.

In the last two World Cups, Mexico advanced after earning four points and losing in its last group-stage match.

Petr David Josek/Associated Press

Since the version of the 2014 Mexico national team doesn't seem to conform with just repeating what other versions have done in the past, why not think of going for more than just qualifying?

Mexico can very well try to go for the win against Croatia and take the group's first place. In the given scenario that Mexico beats Croatia and Brazil does the same against Cameroon, then the goal differential will be the difference. Right now, that difference is in favor of the host country. That could have been different if the two Giovani Dos Santos unfairly disallowed goals had counted.

Considering how strong the Netherlands looked in its first game in Group B, any team qualifying in Group A will like to avoid them, and that is why being first in the group is what Mexico should aim for.

Mexico has qualified to the second round of every World Cup in the last five editions of the tournament. Seems easy to say, but that is something that only two other teams have done: Brazil and Germany. It is in Mexico's hands to continue that positive streak.