Who are Mexico's group stage opponents at World Cup 2018 & who could they play in the last 16?

Andres Guardado Hirving Lozano Mexico
Dirk Waem
The North American side have a long history at the World Cup and they will be aiming to go step further this year in Russia

Mexico will take part in the World Cup for the 16th time in their history when they make the journey to Russia this summer and they will be desperate to have an impact.

Juan Carlos Osorio's side booked their place in the tournament with ease, topping the CONCACAF hexagonal tournament, and they have looked impressive in subsequent warm-up friendlies.

El Tri have reached the last 16 in the previous six editions, which shows they have what it takes to navigate through the group stage. However, they have never made it past the quarter-final stage and that will surely be a target this year. 

Ahead of the big kick off in June, Goal takes a look at Mexico's World Cup opponents, as well as taking a look at who they might face in the knock-out stage.

Mexico's World Cup 2018 opponents

Date Match Time (BST) Venue
Jun 17 Germany vs Mexico 16:00 Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Jun 23 South Korea vs Mexico 16:00 Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
Jun 27 Mexico vs Sweden 15:00 Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg

Mexico were drawn in Group F alongside European and Asian opposition as a Pot Two team.

Reigning world champions Germany are undoubtedly the sternest proposition in the group, with games against South Korea and Sweden also in store this June.

They will kick their 16th World Cup off with a game against the holders at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on June 17 before facing South Korea at the Rostov Arena five days later.

Their final game in Group F comes against Sweden on June 27 and that game will be played at Central Stadium, Yekaterinburg.


Mesut Ozil Germany

How did they qualify?

Defending champions Germany qualified for the 2018 World Cup by finishing top of UEFA qualifying Group C and, remarkably, they were the only team in the entire European qualification cycle to win all 10 games. Die Mannschaft scored 43 goals in total - joint-highest along with Belgium - and conceded just four as they saw off competition from Czech Republic, Northern Ireland for the right to defend their crown.

Who are their key players?

Germany's squad is swollen with world-class players and quality can be found in all areas of the pitch. In Bayern Munich's Manuel Neuer and Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen they boast possibly the best two goalkeepers in the world, with a formidable defence shielding them too. Bayern trio Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Joshua Kimmich bring an almost telepathic partnership at the back.

Ahead of them in midfield, Sami Khedira, Toni Kroos and Mesut Ozil are the most senior operators, but they will be ably assisted by the likes of Leroy Sane, Julian Draxler and Mario Gotze, not to mention the possibility of Marco Reus making the cut. In attack, Germany can call upon Thomas Muller, who already has 10 World Cup goals to his name, making him one of the all-time best scorers in the tournament's history. As well as Muller, Mario Gomez, Timo Werner and Sandro Wagner will all be making a case for inclusion. So as you can see, there is no shortage of talent.

Who is their manager?

Joachim Low has been Germany head coach for nearly 12 years and he has consistently steered the team into the proverbial 'business end' of every tournament he has been involved in. Having finished runners-up at Euro 2008 and third at the World Cup in South Africa in 2010, Low eventually clinched the World Cup in 2014. During the course of his tenure the former Stuttgart boss has reinvented his team on a number of occasions and last year he delivered Germany's first ever Confederations Cup with what was ostensibly a second-string squad.

South Korea

Son Heung Min South Korea

How did they qualify?

South Korea secured their place in Russia by finishing second in Group A of the final stage of the AFC qualification process. The Reds were second-best to Iran, who topped the table, and marginally ahead of Syria, Uzbekistan and China. They won four, drew three and lost three, with their three defeats coming against Qatar, China and Iran. South Korea have qualified for every World Cup since 1986, but were fourth seeds for the World Cup draw.

Who are their key players?

The majority of the South Korea squad earn their living in the K1 League or J1 League, but a few are dotted around Europe and China. Perhaps the best known player in the panel is Tottenham forward Son Heung-min and he will be the team's main source of creative inspiration in Russia. The captain and leader of the team is Swansea City midfielder Ki Sung-yeung and he will be assisted in the middle of the park with Koo Ja-cheol, who has thrived in the Bundesliga with the likes of Wolfsburg, Mainz and Augsburg. 

Who is their manager?

South Korea's head coach at the World Cup will be Shin Tae-yong, who took the reins from Uli Stielike in June 2017. He was at the helm for just two of the team's World Cup qualification games, steering them to scoreless draws in the last two games against Iran and Uzbekistan to see them over the line. Since then, Shin has presided over wins against Colombia, Japan and North Korea. He will be assisted by Spanish coach Toni Grande, who has previously coached with Real Madrid and served as assistant to Vicente Del Bosque during his time as Spain boss.


Sweden celebrating against Italy

How did they qualify?

Sweden's route to Russia was a dramatic one and their place at the tournament came at the expense of stalwarts Italy, who they defeated in the play-off. The Blagult pipped the Netherlands to second place in UEFA qualification Group A thanks to goal difference, finishing behind France, who they overcame in Stockholm. Sweden were paired with the Azzurri in the play-off stage and qualified by virtue of a 1-0 aggregate win, having triumphed in the home leg. Russia 2018 is their 12th time competing at the World Cup.

Who are their key players?

Marcus Berg was Sweden's top scorer in qualification as he struck eight goals and the Al Ain striker will be expected to lead the line in Russia. RB Leipzig winger Emil Forsberg, who scored four in qualification, has been impressive in recent seasons and they will look to him to provide the creative spark, while Sebastian Larsson is a dangerous set-piece threat. Sweden have an experienced defence too, with the likes of Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof, Krasnodar's Andreas Granqvist and Celtic full-back Mikael Lustig forming the rearguard. Of course, there is also a possibility that Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be exhumed from international retirement, even if it appears unlikely.

Who is their manager?

Sweden will be led into the tournament in Russia this summer by Janne Andersson. The 55-year-old took over from Erik Hamren in 2016 and was the mastermind behind qualification. Prior to managing Sweden, Andersson spent time as head coach of Halmstad, Orgryte and, finally, with Norrkoping, who he steered to the Allsvenskan title in 2015.

Who could Mexico get in the knock-outs?

Javier Hernandez Mexico Croatia

Mexico have progressed to the knock-out stage of the last six World Cups so they will be determined to continue that habit in Russia.

Article continues below

If they finish in the top two in Group F this summer, Osorio's men will come up against the qualifiers from Group E, which means one of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica or Serbia.

Should they progress and win in the last 16, a team from Group G or H awaits them in the quarter-finals. So that means they could end up facing Belgium, England, Colombia or Poland.

Due to the nature of the knock-out stage, they will not meet teams such as Spain, Portugal, Argentina or France until the semi-finals at the earliest.