Mexico are certainly not taking it easy with regards to November’s international window. Friendlies against Belgium and Poland in Brussels and Gdansk represent World Cup warmups against the nations currently ranked fifth and sixth in the world, and their UEFA qualifying campaigns certainly give credence to those high-water marks.
As far as friendlies go, the match against Belgium at Heysel Stadium on Friday, November 10 is as close as you can get to a can’t-miss affair. The Red Devils, of course, were quarterfinalists at both the 2014 World Cup and Euro 2016, and failure to move beyond that hurdle in Russia would represent a disappointment for Roberto Martinez and his men.
Their squad doesn’t look like a Belgian golden generation so much as it does a World All-Star XI. It’s a who’s who of players that’ve dominated the sport’s narrative over the last few years — Romelu Lukaku, Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne, Jan Vertonghen, Thibaut Courtois — and they're still missing the injured Toby Alderweireld, Vincent Kompany and Christian Benteke.
Then it’s off to Poland for Monday’s match against the Eagles. Poland were also quarterfinalists at Euro 2016, losing to eventual champions Portugal on penalties, and they’ll approach Russia confident in the fact that they have the world’s best No. 9. 29-year-old Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski, supported by Jakub Blaszcyzykowski and Kamil Grosicki in midfield, will provide El Tri with a different albeit similarly stern test.
The World Cup kicks off in 223 days. This pair of upcoming friendlies represents Juan Carlos Osorio's best chance between now and then to test his strongest squad against two nations looking to make deep runs in Russia. For us, it's a chance to watch El Tri against some of the world's biggest stars on European soil.