They are not the big time rivals that Mexico fans can't wait to face. In fact for the majority of fans, they might not mean anything at all. Yet for me they are the teams that aren't traditional rivals that I can't wait for the chance for Mexico to finally beat them or beat them again. Nowhere close to the real rivals like the United States, Costa Rica, or even Brazil. Or the one sided rivalries that Mexico fans have like Argentina, Spain, or Germany. This teams would not likely have much of a rivalry from either set of fans and yet for a number of reason, the sense of rivalry is strong for me.
Here are my list of the non traditional rivalry teams, I can't wait for Mexico to beat or try to again:
The maybe closest to the rivalry is the "Simpsons Clasico". It's a rivalry brought to life in a 1997 Simpsons Episode called "The Cartridge Family” when they spoofed those international soccer game played in the United States with a match between Mexico and Portugal. The game was too boring and in the majority of the people attending went to get away from the game and it ended up creating a riot. In real life, Mexico and Portugal didn't regularly play, as they had only played in the 60's. Things changed in 2006 when both Mexico and Portugal where in the same group of the World Cup. Portugal won it's first two games and had booked their tickets to the Round of 16 while Mexico had four points and needed a result. Portugal rested players like Cristiano Ronaldo, but they were still able to beat a full Mexico A-team by a score of 2-1 as the Ricardo Lavolpe led team needed the result of the Iran and Angola game to book their ticket to the Round of 16. After that they wouldn't face each other until the last friendly prior to the 2014 World Cup where Mexico had the better play in the game but Alan Pulido missed a good chance. In the last minute of play, Bruno Alves headed in a goal and Portugal won 1-0. Mexico and Portugal wouldn't face each other until the 2017 Confederations Cup where they were in the same group. There Mexico had their best result in their only match where they faced Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal was leading 2-1 but in the final play of the game, Hector Moreno tied the game with a header from the corner kick for the 2-2. Mexico and Portugal would face each other in the third place game of the tournament sans Ronaldo. Mexico took a 1-0 lead but in the final minutes, Pepe would take advantage from a terrible defensive play from Miguel Layun to head the tying goal for the 1-1. In extra time Portugal got a penalty which they converted for the 2-1 win as Coach Juan Carlos Osorio got red carded and got a five game suspension that made him miss the 2017 Gold Cup. Needless to say, I really want to beat Portugal.
A team that gave us one of the most painful losses and a style that gives us fit. The majority of this goes to of course the terrible 3-0 loss in the 2018 World Cup that changed the competition for Mexico and wasted a great chance for the World Cup. It wasn't that recent that the Scandinavian style has really hurt us, however. Mexico has always had trouble with Sweden and other nations who play a tough, physical style. It would be a great thing to start facing more teams like that, and maybe we can get a sense of how to play them and not suffer key losses just when we look to have the best possible bracket in ages in a World Cup.
The team that inspired this article. Nobody in Mexico cares at all about the Australian National Football team and yet it's one of the rivals I want Mexico to beat the most. Two games are the key to this, and both of them were in the Confederations Cup. In 1997 coach Manuel Lapuente made his debut with the Mexican National team in the Confederations Cup. Mexico had qualified to the 1998 World Cup, but they still had fired coach Bora Milutinovic after not playing particularly well. Mexico was in a group with host Saudi Arabia and Brazil and were favored to go through, but they had to make their debut against Australia. To the surprise of most Mexicans, El Tricolor lost 3-1 to Australia. Mexico picked up in the next game with a 5-0 victory against Saudi Arabia but then had to go through a tough Brazil side after they tied 0-0 with Australia. Mexico gave it their all but lost 3-2 and were eliminated in the group stages, as Brazil went on to win the tournament by beating Australia in the final by a score of 6-0.
Four years later, Mexico was in a similar situation under coach Enrique Meza. Meza had replace Lapuente and although he started well, it all went to hell after Cuauhtemoc Blanco got injured in a World Cup qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago. After that, the absence of Blanco and a terrible job by Meza had the team underperforming terribly (for me the worst I've ever seen). Mexico played a friendly against England and lost 4-0, and then went on to the Confederations cup where they faced host South Korea, World Cup champions France, and Australia. Mexico had their debut against Australia in the expected easiest game of the tournament and once again lost, this time by a score of 2-0. This doomed Mexico, who proceeded to lose 2-1 against South Korea and 4-0 against France. They wound up finishing in last place in what is probably the worst tournament they have played since the 1978 World Cup. The strange thing is that after those games, Mexico has yet to face Australia again. Mexico has actually faced and beaten both France and South Korea in the World Cup since then (France in 2010 and South Korea in 2018). We still haven't been able to get any sort of vengeance against Australia for those Confederations Cup losses that wrecked our chances in those tournaments. I would have to say, this might be one of the top rivalries for me.
If the Australian National team is the surprising rivalry that matters to me the most, this is the one that matters to me the least. Mexico and Nigeria are a true rivalry, but a youth team one since nothing has been close to the big frustrations that Mexico has suffered from Nigeria in youth competitions. The first being the 2-0 Quarterfinal win in the 1996 Olympic Games, as Nigeria eliminated Mexico en route to them winning the Olympic medal. And then the big one was the 2013 U17 World Cup where Nigeria opened the competition by destroying Mexico 6-1. Mexico picked themselves up and had a great tournament by getting to the final after defeating teams like Sweden, Italy, Brazil, and even Argentina. Then in the final they faced the best team in the tournament, Nigeria and lost clearly by a 3-0 score.
Catch all the goals of that tournament here:
But those are youth tournaments and in the senior things, the frustration is more of the fact that Mexico and Nigeria can't do anything but tie. Since Mexico beat Nigeria in the 1995 US Cup, every time they play they tie. In 2007 it was a friendly in Ciudad Juarez where Mexico and Nigeria tied 2-2 with Mexico after Mexico was once down 2-0. Then in 2013 prior to the Confederations Cup, Mexico faced Nigeria. Mexico took a 1-0 lead with a goal from Javier Hernandez but Pablo Barrera handled a ball in the area, gifting a penalty and getting red carded too. Nigeria took the advantage and got a 2-1 lead but Hernandez once again tied the game and it finished 2-2. Then in 2014, Mexico and Nigeria took advantage of the March FIFA date to face each other and get another hard fought tie, this time 0-0. It was a key match that woke up Coach Miguel Herrera to the fact he needed his European players, since the Mexican league players floundered in that game as the Europeos rose to the occasion. So in the end this one has more to do with the fact we can't seem to beat them and that like Sweden, their style gives us fits.
In the football world, Belarus are really in the lower tiers of football. They have never qualified to the World Cup or to the Euro Championships. They won one game in 2019, a 2-1 victory over Estonia in their only victory in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. And yet in the only game they faced Mexico, they defeated them by a score of 3-2. It came in 2014. Mexico had just gained one of their top results in a friendly when they went to Amsterdam and beat the Netherlands by a score of 3-2 in the return of Carlos Vela to the National team, who scored twice. The win came months after the Dutch had eliminated Mexico the Round of 16 in the 2014 World Cup. Mexico was flying high under Coach Miguel Herrera and after that they went preparing itself for the harsh winter weather by playing Belarus in Borisov Arena. With a mostly different squad than against the Dutch and in extremely cold temperatures, Mexico lost 3-2 with a bad defensive display in which Raul Jimenez’ two goals were for nothing. Thus Mexico still has a losing record against one of the lesser sides in all of Europe. Hopefully Mexico gets to wipe that mark off their 100% losing record against them soon.
There are many more than come to mind (one of example is Switzerland, who we haven't played against since an awful 5-1 loss in 1994) but these are the key rivalries that nobody would ever think are true rivalries, yet personally they are as strong as many others. I'm sure everybody has a couple of them in their brain, so feel free to let us know in the comments below or on social media!