The final matchday in Group C puts Mexico against the wall, needing a victory and then some to advance to the knockout stage for the eighth consecutive tournament. Standing in their way is Saudi Arabia, owners of perhaps Qatar’s biggest upset result, with a chance to eliminate their North American foes and secure their first knockout stage berth since their inaugural World Cup showing in 1994.
The Matchup: MEXvKSA
- Stage: Group C, Matchday 3
- 11:00 AM PT kickoff
- Venue: Lusail Stadium, Al Daayen
- Watch: Fox Sports 1, Telemundo
- Where to Watch: Official Viewing Locations
Mexico has no margin for error. After a promising draw against Poland to open the tournament individual excellence from Leo Messi put down El Tri against Argentina. The result placed them at the bottom of the group, but still with a chance to advance. To move on to the knockout rounds they need to win – but the result of Argentina and Poland’s matchup will determine their fate. Should Poland win, a victory sends Mexico through with no questions asked. With an Argentina win, tiebreakers would come into play to determine who advances.
The latter scenario has some fans understandably nervous. Not a single ball has gone over the line for Mexico so far, and the scoring balance currently favors Poland. To beat a Saudi team still running off the high of besting one of the tournament’s top squads, the forwards will need to find form and take advantage of every opportunity they get.
Outlook: Saudi Arabia
The Saudis have everything to play for. After a thrilling win to open the tournament, they fell 2-0 to Poland. But they remain tied with Argentina in points, so heading into the final matchday they control their own destiny. A victory would tie them with Argentina at the top of the group should they best Poland, or put them ahead of both in the event of a draw.
If they can keep up some of the positives shown in their last match a victory would be well within their sights. Against the Poles they dominated the ball, holding 64% possession. Resulting from that control came 16 attempts at goal as compared to their opponent’s nine, a balance that would favor them considerably if they can perform at a high level on the defensive end.
Tuesday’s match will be the first between the two nations in over two decades. The 1999 Confederations Cup was the last time they matched up. Mexico has dominated all-time, claiming four wins to go with one draw.