The “Mexican curse”
Regardless if you believe in any superstitions, Mexico’s ongoing defeats is an interesting topic to follow. Over the last couple of decades, every team that has defeated Mexico in crucial games eventually faced a brick wall; on the road to championship gold. Let’s recap Mexico’s most noticeable eliminations.
FIFA World Cup
For seven straight World Cups, Mexico qualified, sometimes just by an inch. Their performance has become a standard routine, exit by the Round of 16. On multiple occasions, it seemed like they were finally going to breakthrough into the quarter-finals, but it wasn’t meant to be. As for the team that beats them, failure is secured; immediately or on the long-run.
In the 2010 World Cup, Mexico was drawn into Group A, alongside South Africa (host), Uruguay, and France. Of the three, Uruguay beat El Tri and made it to the semi-finals. The Netherlands (we’ll get there) stopped them right there and forced Uruguay to compete for 3rd place. Germany ended up getting the win, leaving Uruguay in 4th.
When Mexico faced Argentina in the 2nd round, Argentina trashed them 3-1. Carlos Tévez’s goal was controversial, as his goal was clearly offside. Regardless, it stood. Argentina moved on to face Germany. La Albiceleste took a brutal beating; worse than what they gave Mexico. Die Mannschaft scored four unanswered goals. Ironically, a consolation goal by Argentina was overturned; due to it being offside. Four years later, they lost the final to Germany. As of 2020, the championship drought continues.
Next; the 2014 World Cup. This one is interesting, because of how the losing streak almost ended. As part of Group A, El Tri pulled off amazing matches against Croatia and Brazil, with the latter being the most impressive 0-0 game ever. Mexico finished in 2nd place and faced the Netherlands next. Mexico scored early in the 2nd half and held on with dear life, up to the 88th minute. Wesley Sneijder’s shot found the back of the net. With a few minutes left, Mexico had to maintain possession, run the clock, and force extra time. Well, that didn’t happen.
A defensive mistake by Rafa Marquez fouled Arjen Robben, inside the penalty box. Netherlands was awarded the penalty, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted, to eliminate Mexico. Thus, “No Era Penal” was born.
The Dutch barely escaped Costa Rica on penalties; and advanced to take on Argentina. This game was also forced to a penalty shootout. It was bad right away, as Vlaar failed to score the first. Sneijder botched his shot to send his team home. “No Era Penal” morphed into “No Van al Mundial” as the Flying Dutchmen didn’t qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Fast forward to 2018. Mexico was drawn into Group F, the “Group of Death”. Any hopes were crushed right away. Their opponents were Sweden (without Zlatan), South Korea, and Germany. To make matters worse, Germany and Mexico opened up the group. In shocking fashion, Mexico beat the champions, 1-0. That was a punishment in the works. More on that later. El Tri’s hype was their own undoing, with Sweden getting an easy 3-0 victory (eliminated in the next round).
Regardless, thanks to South Korea defeating Germany, Mexico moved up to face Brazil. What should have been an even encounter turned into a circus. PSG star, Neymar, oversold tackles that would make Shawn Michaels jealous. Neymar burned a good amount of time, rolling in questionable pain.
It became quite understandable that Mexico began getting frustrated due to those antics. Brazil went on to win 2-0, and face Belgium. Brazil’s 2014 7-1 defeat to Germany was about to be put to rest and the World Cup drought was coming to an end. Nope. The omens were bad from the beginning. Fernandinho opened up the match with a ridiculous own goal. De Bruyne added to their lead with a goal at the 31st minute. Renato Augusto gave his team hope with a goal in the 76th minute. It was merely a pity goal to send Brazil back home.
FIFA Confederations Cup
Mexico’s only shining moment in a FIFA tournament was in the 1999 Confederations Cup, as they won it. Everything after that was a walking disaster. Between the 2001 and 2017 editions, Australia, France, South Korea, Argentina, Germany (twice), Brazil, Italy (twice), and Portugal took down El Tri. All of those teams had a huge downfall after their respective wins.
France was eliminated in the group stage of the 2002 World Cup and lost the final to Italy in 2006 (via penalty shootout). South Korea ended in 4th place at the 2002 World Cup. Argentina doesn’t need a long description, as they are also still feeling the effects of Maradona’s “Hand of God” goal. Germany had to settle for third place in two consecutive World Cups and eventually lose to Mexico in the 2018 World Cup. Brazil was torched in back-to-back World Cups. Portugal beat Mexico for 3rd place in 2017, but was tossed out of the recent World Cup in the 2nd round.
While the Copa America is a CONMEBOL tournament, Mexico has been a frequent guest. In 2017, Chile dismantled Mexico 7-0 before reaching the final to beat Argentina. The price to pay was losing the Confederations Cup final and not qualifying for the 2018 World Cup. From spicy, to mild, to nothing. For shame.
Just maybe, Mexico’s own inconsistencies not only effects the team itself, but who also who beats them. Sure, Mexico’s tournament records (outside of the Gold Cup) are some of the most obscure, but now knowing what happens to the winners is worth noting.