Mexico Can Be Happy It Missed Out On Playing In The World Cup Opener
Get the best email in soccer.
Mexico did not receive the easiest group in Friday’s World Cup draw and some would argue (perhaps unsuccessfully) that El Tri’s Group F is the Group of Death. But one thing Mexico fans can be happy about: Their team won’t be playing in the World Cup opener. The Mexico World Cup opener will be a rematch against the Germany team that thrashed El Tri in the 2017 Confederations Cup, but it will be three days after the tournament begins, which is good news for coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s team.
Mexico has played in more World Cup openers than just about any other nation. In 15 appearances, El Tri has been a part of the lone World Cup opener three times and four more times they’ve been a part of simultaneous kickoffs for the opener. They’ve yet to win a single one of them.
Mexico first appeared in a World Cup opener at the very first edition of the tournament. It didn’t end well, with France thrashing El Tri 4-1 in the first ever match. To make matters worse, the U.S. beat Belgium 3-0 at the same time in the other opening match.
The next time Mexico was involved in a kick-off match was 1954 when four matches began at the same time. Brazil promptly rolled to a 5-0 victory. The story was similar in the next two World Cups: a 3-0 loss to host Sweden in 1958 and 2-0 defeat to Brazil in 1962.
When Mexico hosted the 1970 World Cup in 1970, El Tri faced the Soviet Union in the opener, which ended in a 0-0 draw. Fortunately, Mexico advanced past the group stage for the first time in team history thanks to wins over Belgium and El Salvador.
Mexico had to wait another 40 years before it was involved in another opener, taking on host South Africa to begin the 2010 tournament. The match ended in a 1-1 draw, a big result for the country hosting the first World Cup in Africa. Mexico probably thought its chances to advance were over at that point, but France’s ineptitude allowed El Tri to move on.
So in seven World Cup openers, Mexico has lost five and drawn twice. El Tri was outscored 18-2 in those matches.
Sure, a matchup against Russia wouldn’t have been the end of the world given the hosts are the worst side in the tournament, but that’s what many thought before Mexico played South Africa in 2010.
El Tri does not have an easy task ahead against Germany, Sweden and South Korea, but at least they don’t have to play in the opener.