The fifth game. “El quinto partido.” Even with the World Cup Round of 16 still a full eight months away, the draw Mexico gets Dec. 1 will direct everyone’s attention to what could be happening June 1.
Talk about getting to the “quinto partido” is on everyone’s lips every four years. For a country that lives and breaths soccer as much as Mexico does and has so much pride in its national team, the fact that the team has never made it to the quarterfinals of a World Cup played on foreign soil stands out as a point of embarrassment.
There will be analysis of Mexico’s group opponents, but fans also will be tempted to look ahead to see who Mexico might face in the Round of 16, the point where the adventure has ended for El Tri in the last six tournaments.
“First we have to talk about the group phase and after that see if Mexico can keep advancing to the final stages. But Mexico can advance to the fifth game,” former Mexico midfielder Alberto Garcia Arce, a three-time World Cup veteran who now works as a Fox Deportes analyst, told Goal this week,
“Hopefully this national team can move on even past that, but obviously we’ll have to see beyond even the group that they’re in, which team they could meet in the next round. That’s also really important: Which team you could face when you’re advancing to the next round.”
That’s what Mexico will learn Friday morning Mexico City time. Sitting in Pot 2 as CONCACAF’s strongest team, Mexico could end up with a favorable draw but be ‘crossed’ with a group that contains two powers like Brazil and Spain .