Victories over defending champion Germany and South Korea aren’t quite enough to guarantee Mexico’s place in the World Cup finals.
Mexico upset Germany 1-0 in its opener and then defeated South Korea 2-1.
But then Germany managed a 2-1 win over Sweden, setting up various scenarios that will come into play during Tuesday’s simultaneous matches.
Mexico only needs a draw against Sweden to seal their qualification for the round of 16 for the seventh tournament in a row.
But they could be eliminated if they were to lose to Sweden and Germany were to beat South Korea, based on either goal difference, goals scored or fair-play points.
“We knew that we were going to play for first place against Sweden,” Mexico’s goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa said. “This result wasn’t going to change anything.”
If Mexico and South Korea both win, Mexico would win the group and every other team would be tied with three points.
The two sides have met on nine previous occasions, with Sweden getting the better of Mexico four times. The only World Cup tie between the sides took place in 1958 in Sweden, when the home team won 3-0.
Sweden hasn’t made it to the second round since 2006. And like Mexico, six points wouldn’t necessarily be enough to advance. The Swedes might end up needing to win by two goals, depending on what Germany does.
While Mexico’s defense has been solid, Ochoa is the biggest reason that El Tri, the Mexican National Football Team, has given up just one goal in the tournament.
“The Great Wall of Ochoa” has been a steadying presence for Mexico and has a tournament-high 14 saves. He stopped nine shots against Germany and five against South Korea.
Mexico plays Sweden in a World Cup Group F match in Yekaterinburg on Wednesday.
The match, at the Ekaterinburg Arena, will be broadcast in Yucatán at 9 a.m.
This World Cup has already been one for the books. Mexico’s 2-1 victory over South Korea gave them back-to-back World Cup wins for the first time since 2002.
Javier Hernandez became the first to score 50 goals for the national team when he netted against South Korea. He is also the third player to score at three different World Cups for Mexico.
Mexico has failed to get beyond the round of 16 since 1986, when it reached the quarter-finals as tournament hosts.
Sources: AP, Reuters