Where Does Mexico's World Cup 2014 Campaign Rank in Their All-Time Performances?
Mexico gave quite the performance at Brazil 2014. Miguel Herrera managed to put together a competitive side that fought very hard until the end. But El Tri has had other strong performances throughout the years.
From being a host to playing the tournament in countries as far-flung as Korea and Japan, Mexico have appeared in the biggest football fiesta on the planet 15 times.
Some players have managed to secure a move to European clubs off the back of their performances; others have decided to put an end to their careers after the World Cup.
In any case, all of those tournaments have always given the fans a good mix of enthusiasm, happiness and tears.
Let's take a look at El Tri's performances and where the latest campaign ranks.
6. First-Time Seeded (Germany 2006)
Ricardo La Volpe had been working with the team since 2002, and during the 2005 Confederations Cup Mexico showed the world a new level and a more dynamic playing style.
A year later, FIFA put Mexico among the eight seeded teams for the first time. El Tri landed in Group D with Portugal, Angola and Iran.
It wasn't a walk in the park. Although El Tri debuted with a 3-1 victory over Iran, Angola turned out to be stronger than expected and held Mexico to a scoreless draw.
El Tri had grabbed four points by the time they faced Portugal. The Europeans defeated Mexico 2-1, which put Los Verdes in second place of the group.
The round of 16 provided the fans and media one of Mexico's most epic battles on the pitch.
El Tri opened the scoring early on the match, but Argentina equalised just four minutes later. There were no more goals in the regular time.
It took La Albiceleste an amazing long-distance shot from Maxi Rodriguez in extra time to advance to the quarterfinals.
Goals for: five
Goals against: five
5. The Golden Generation (USA 1994)
Mexico missed the 1990 World Cup because FIFA banned them from all football competitions as the result of lining up overage footballers in an U20 championship.
Four years later, Miguel Mejia Baron put together a team full of well-known players for Mexico's first appearance in a World Cup since 1986.
All of the footballers were standard bearers of their respective clubs and had already made quite an impression during the 1993 Copa America—where they were runners-up—and the Gold Cup—which they won.
Once in the United States, El Tri recovered from a 1-0 defeat vs. Norway to beat the Republic of Ireland with two long-distance shots from Luis Garcia.
In the final clash they surprised Italy and snatched one point from the then-three-time world champions. It was the perfect combination to secure the first position of Group E.
The squad seemed to be on the up and Bulgaria seemed to be an easy rival, but the Europeans ultimately complicated Mexico's future.
They endured the constant attacks from the Mexicans and took the game to the penalty kicks.
El Tri couldn't put away the ball in their first three opportunities, while the Bulgarians only missed their opening shot.
Goals for: four
Goals against: four
4. The Defeat Against the Archenemy (Korea-Japan 2002)
Mexico arrived in Asia after a shaky qualifying tournament, which included their first-ever defeat on home soil in the Hexagonal—vs. Costa Rica.
Enrique Meza was sacked and Javier Aguirre took over. El Vasco managed to overturn the situation; El Tri qualified in second place with 17 points.
Mexico were drawn in Group G, along with Italy, Croatia and Ecuador.
They managed to defeat the Blazers 1-0 after a penalty kick. They overcame an adverse score vs. Ecuador to win 2-1, and they tied with Italy to secure the first place of the group.
In the round of 16, Mexico faced the United States. Most fans thought that El Tri could finally advance to the quarterfinals, which would mean playing the fifth game of a World Cup outside their own turf for the first time.
But the team's overconfidence was its worst enemy. Mexico not only lost "Dos a Cero", captain Rafael Marquez was given a red card in the 88th minute.
The good performance, technique and discipline the squad had shown in the group stage were completely lost in the knockout stage.
Goals for: four
Goals against: four
3 Luis Hernandez, Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Company (France 1998)
France 1998 gave us one of the most emblematic Mexican performances in the World Cup history.
These two caught the attention of the media thanks to their knack for goal scoring and their hunger.
Hernandez became the all-time leading Mexican scorer in World Cups after putting the ball away four times—against South Korea (twice), Netherlands and Germany.
El Tri qualified to the knockout stage with five points, the same number as the Netherlands, but goal difference favored the Europeans.
That scenario put them face-to-face with Germany. After a scoreless draw in the first half, Hernandez opened the score in the 47th minute.
Mexico held off the Europeans, mainly thanks to Jorge Campos—who saved some key shots from Oliver Bierhoff, Jurgen Klinsmann and Lothar Matthaeus.
However, in the 75th minute, Klinsmann defeated Campos and 11 minutes later Bierhoff put an end to El Tri's hopes.
Goals for: eight
Goals against: seven
2. Second-Time Host (Mexico 1986)
Mexico became the first nation to host the World Cup twice.
El Tri reached the quarterfinals for the second time in history in 1986. However, 16 years earlier, the tournament didn't have the round of 16 as there were only 16 participants.
Bora Milutinovic, who became a legend while playing for Mexican team Pumas, put together one of the most brilliant squads ever.
He had tough defenders, like Fernando Quirarte, midfielders with good ball possession, such as Miguel Espana, attacking midfielders of the likes of Tomas Boy and lethal forwards, as Hugo Sanchez.
Mexico won two games, vs. Belgium and Iraq, and tied one, with Paraguay, which was enough to qualify first of Group B.
In the knockout stage they faced Bulgaria. The team was more solid than ever, and with a goal by Manuel Negrete—one of the most beautiful ever—and another from Raul Servin, Mexico secured their ticket to the quarterfinals.
Despite the efforts and taking the match to the penalty kicks, El Tri lost to West Germany after Quirarte and Servin missed their opportunities.
Goals for: six
Goals against: two
1. The Surprise (Brazil 2014)
Mexico's worst qualifying process in 32 years seemed to be a recipe for disaster.
After Jose Manuel de la Torre, Luis Fernando Tena and Victor Manuel Vucetich tried unsuccessfully to keep the team on track, Miguel Herrera took over.
El Piojo quickly capped 10 players from his former team, Club America, and faced New Zealand in a two-legged playoff.
He not only secured a ticket for the World Cup, he also managed to give the squad a new face, which included new players—a perfect mix of experienced footballers and youngsters—and a dynamic and fluid playing style.
When Mexico arrived in Brazil, Herrera hadn't decided his starting XI, but ultimately came with the right picks to defeat Cameroon, draw with the host and thrash Croatia.
Herrera became the man. He put a whole country to dream when seven months earlier no one would have bet for El Tri.
The squad lost to Netherlands in a devious match, which included some controversial refereeing decisions. However, this performance is the undisputed proof that there are great things to come.
Goals for: five
Goals against: three