Mexico has had an excellent start to the 2018 World Cup but still has a chance to make history in an unwanted way.
No team whose World Cup campaign started off with six points has seen it end at the group stage. Yet, El Tri's could.
The tiebreakers can get confusing, but let's imagine Germany wins 1-0 over Korea and Sweden tops Mexico, 1-0. The teams would be locked on points obtained, goal difference and number of scored goals. The tiebreaker then goes to points obtained in all matches between the tied teams and goal difference in all matches between the tied teams, then number of goals scored in all matches between the tied teams.
The last one would favor Germany, thanks to its two goals in a 2-1 win over Sweden. And since, with a victory, Sweden would automatically top Mexico as well, El Tri would find themselves out of the World Cup at the group stage.
However, if Sweden beats Mexico 2-1 and Germany beats Korea 1-0, Sweden would go through as the group winner with Mexico and Germany deadlocked and El Tri moving through thanks to their head-to-head win over the reigning champion.
There's an easy way for Mexico to keep it from going to all this math: Get a point against Sweden. A draw would be good enough for Juan Carlos Osorio's men to set a date with the Group E runner-up in St. Petersburg, advancing to the round of 16 for the seventh consecutive tournament.
History tells us that's the most likely outcome, and not only because of the long streak boasted by El Tri. Every time a team has won its first two matches in the World Cup group stage, it has advanced to the next round. The last time multiple teams in the same group ended with six points was back in 1994. Two groups in the United States finished with three teams on six points, but that was before the tournament expanded to eight groups. Group D, which contained Nigeria, Bulgaria and Argentina, and Group F with the Netherlands, Saudi Arabia and Belgium, sent their third place teams through on the merit of being in the top four third-placed teams.
Mexico's group also required tiebreakers in 1994 with all four teams earning four points and a goal difference of zero. El Tri's three goals in that tournament saw them move through to the next round with Ireland and Italy also advancing. Norway scoring only one goal in the tournament meant it was the odd team out.
It's clear what Mexico needs to do to avoid setting history that it would love to avoid. The team is focused on beating Sweden, leaving nothing to chance and making the kind of history for which this group of players wants to be known.