Mexico’s Round of 16 streak and other facts and figures

Mexico has one final match before heading to Qatar where they hope to advance out of the group stage for the eighth World Cup in a row. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images)
Mexico has one final match before heading to Qatar where they hope to advance out of the group stage for the eighth World Cup in a row. (Photo by JOSEP LAGO/AFP via Getty Images) /
Mexico Cup trivia
Sweden manhandled Mexico the last time these two teams met, thrashing El Tri 3-0 at the 2018 World Cup. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images) /

Mexico plays Sweden today – in Girona, Spain – in its final tune-up before kicking off its World Cup participation on Nov. 22 (against Poland).

Sweden – ranked No. 25 in the world – did not qualify for Qatar, but four years ago in Russia, they spanked El Tri 3-0 in the final group-stage contest, condemning Juan Carlos Osorio & Co. to a Round of 16 match-up against Brazil.

Coach Gerardo Martino is not expected to utilize his starting line-up but will give key players – especially striker Raúl Jiménez – some minutes while perhaps tinkering with some line options, particularly on defense.

The argument for not going with the starting XI from the outset is that scouts from Poland, Argentina and Saudi Arabia will be in attendance and “Tata” does not want to reveal any “secrets” to his Group C rivals.

Aging Team Mexico?

In conjunction with the grumbling about Martino’s squad selection, El Tri observers have noted that Mexico is not a youthful squad.

The average age of the 26-man roster is 28.46 with the oldest player being 40-year-old back-up goalie Alfredo Talavera and the youngest being fullback Kevin Álvarez who’ll turn 24 in January.

When put in context, however, the current Mexico squad is slightly younger than the 2018 version of El Tri (28.73) and older than the previous five rosters: 2104 – 26.82 years; 2010 – 27.17 years; 2006 – 27.39 years; 2002 – 28.52 years; and, 1998 – 28.27 years.

Trailing only Brazil …

Since the World Cup added a Round of 16 to the knockout stage (in 1986), only Brazil has reached the Sweet 16 each and every time. Germany, Argentina and England have each failed to advance out of the group stage just once in that time, meaning they have qualified for the Round of 16 eight times.

El Tri has also reached the knockout stage eight times since 1986, though unlike the above teams, Mexico has never won a Round of 16 game.

And one other note: Brazil and Mexico are the only two nations to have advanced out of the group stage in each of the past seven World Cups (since 1994). And perhaps Mexico could have equaled Brazil’s perfect group-stage record if not for the suspension that kept El Tri out of the 1990 World Cup.

Naturalized squad members

Forward Rogelio Funes Mori is the sixth non-native born player to be on a Mexico World Cup roster. The Argentine joins Jorge Romo (Cuban-1954, 1958 World Cups), Carlos Blanco (Spaniard-1954, 1958), Gabriel Caballero (Argentine-2002), Antonio Naelson “Sinha” (Brazilian-2006) and Guillermo Franco (Argentine-2006, 2010).

Franco appeared in the most World Cup matches – 7 – while Sinha is the only naturalized Mexican to find the net in a World Cup contest.

The ‘Cinco Copas Club’

Only three players in soccer history have played in five separate World Cups and two of them are Mexican – Antonio “Tota” Carbajal and Rafa Márquez. Germany’s Lothar Matthäus is the other.

Carbajal was Mexico’s starting goalie in the 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962 and 1966 World Cups while Márquez starred for El Tri in 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018. “Rafa” appeared in 12 World Cup matches, good for 12th on the all-time list. Matthäus tops the list with 25.

El Tri captain Andrés Guardado is expected to join the “Five World Cups Club” in Qatar along with Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo.

Guardado, now 36, is not expected to be a full-time starter for “Tata” Martino, but he will surely see action.

Mexicans with whistles and flags

Mexico has five Men in Black taking part in Qatar 2022. Referee César Ramos is set to feature in his second World Cup in a row as are assistant referees Miguel Hernández and Alberto Morín.

Next. Gallardo stars as El Tri defeats Iraq. dark

Another Liga MX referee, Fernando Guerrero, will participate as a Video Assistant Referee while Karen Díaz is the first female Mexican to be selected to take part in a men’s World Cup. Karen will serve as an assistant referee.