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World Cup 2018: Mexico

Mexico have the unenviable task of playing Germany, Sweden and South Korea at the World Cup 2018.

Group F has been labelled as the strongest at the tournament and it will take all of Juan Carlos Osorio’s expertise to lead El Tri through to the knockout phase.

Osorio’s team lost just once in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. That loss came against the United States, who missed out on World Cup qualification this year. Mexico have made it to the round of 16 in each of the last six World Cups. However, their streak could be in danger, if the team fail to get a point against Germany in their first group stage match on June 17.

Mexico have plenty of exciting young players and experienced veterans in the squad. The team’s most thrilling player is PSV Eindhoven winger Hirving Lozano. The pacey forward has played 26 times for the Mexican national team and scored seven goals. His club form has led to clubs around Europe scouting him thoroughly. Lozano tallied 17 goals 29 matches for PSV during the season. If a big money transfer isn’t complete by the time the World Cup kicks off, Lozano’s play in Russia could dictate a major move in August.

Lozano is joined by fellow forward and veteran Javier Hernandez. The West Ham striker has scored 49 goals in 100 Mexican national team appearances. Carlos Vela will also play alongside Lozano. Vela has 18 career international goals.

Questions can be raised around Mexico’s midfield strength. Two of Mexico’s biggest stars over the last few years have been the brother combination of Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos. Both play in Major League Soccer for Los Angeles Galaxy. The two could have fitness problems when the World Cup begins, as the duo has played a combined nine matches in MLS as of May 23. Their decision to play in the United States could affect Mexico’s performance and their inclusion in matches.

Following Mexico’s game against Germany on June 17, the team will play South Korea six days later. Osorio’s side will wrap up the group stage on June 27 against Sweden. It is very likely Mexico will come away from their opener without any points. It is vital for the side to take maximum points in their second and third games to progress. Osorio’s team may not be as good as Germany, but El Tri are just as good as South Korea and Sweden.

Mexico not only received a difficult group stage draw, but it doesn’t get any easier in the round of 16. If Mexico finish second, it is possible the team will play Brazil in the knockout phase. However, the Mexicans could face off against Switzerland, Costa Rica or Serbia, depending on group stage results. Group F may be the most exciting group to watch at the World Cup 2018 and two good sides will go home after just three games.