Despite two victories in two games, Mexico’s future in the World Cup is nearly as unsettled as it was when the team landed in Russia three weeks ago.
Heading into its final group-stage game with Sweden on Wednesday, Mexico is facing several scenarios that could send it to the knockout rounds as Group F champion or send it home. Here are the possibilities:
- With a win or draw vs. Sweden, Mexico wins the group and advances to the second round.
- Even with a loss to Sweden, Mexico still goes through if Germany fails to beat South Korea. Under that scenario Sweden would be the group champion and Mexico the group runner-up.
- If Sweden and Germany both win — meaning Mexico loses — all three teams will finish group play with six points and goal differential will determine who advances. If Germany and Sweden’s margin of victory is two or more goals each, that would send Mexico home.
- If Germany and Sweden both win 1-0, head-to-head results would break the tie atop the table, again sending the two European teams on and Mexico home, based on goals scored in head-to-head games among the three. In fact, if both Sweden and Germany win by one goal, the only way Mexico advances over Germany is if its game with Sweden has more total goals than Germany-South Korea.
Mexico can make all the scribbling irrelevant by simply avoiding a loss.
“Against Sweden, it will be very intense,” defender Miguel Layun said. “If they score first, they know how to defend. Hopefully, we can be the ones who score first.”