May 15, 2006
Random World Cup Facts: Mexico
Times Qualified: 13
Best Finish: Quarterfinals (1970 , 1986)
Top YouTube Mexican World Cup Goal: Playing in front of the home fans, Manuel Negrete pulls off an amazing shot for the first goal in a 2-0 win over Bulgaria in 1986.
Top Mexican Political Issue: Conflict with the United States on immigration continues to dominate the headlines. President Vicente Fox has shown concern about a "militarization of the border" on the part of the Americans.
Football in Mexico: Once the sole superpower in its region, Mexico has had to deal with an ever strengthening American side, whom they have been unable to beat away from home soil. The current Mexican team is aging, and the national team as a whole may struggle in the next few years. However, the future looks bright as their Under-17 team won their World Cup last year in Peru.
The Mexican league is one of the strongest leagues in the Western Hemisphere. Mexican clubs continue to show their strength in continental competition with Chivas in the quarterfinals of this year's Copa Libertadores. América won the CONCACAF Champions Cup, and will play in the FIFA World Club Championship this coming December.
Salaries for players in Mexico are generally high for the region. As a result, most of their national team plays in domestically. There will be four players in their World Cup squad who play abroad.
Players to Watch: Captain Rafael Márquez (Barcelona) has a tendency to disappear at times, and the team suffers for it. Antonio Naelson (Toluca) showed in the Confederations Cup two years ago that he is capable of scoring great goals.
Chances: Mexico is the seeded team in their group and their chances of advancing out of the group will probably come down to their first match against Iran. They should be able to get a result, but tiebreakers may come into play at the end of the day.
Prediction: Second Round