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Mexico extend World Cup debut undefeated streak to 7 World Cups

Mexico have not lost a World Cup opener since the 1994 edition.

QATAR-DOHA-2022 WORLD CUP-GROUP C-MEX VS POL Photo by Jia Haocheng/Xinhua via Getty Images

Mexico’s opening match draw against Poland in the 2022 World Cup extended their streak of not losing the opening round match to 7 World Cups. They also currently sit on a streak of 7 World Cups qualifying to the Round of 16 dating back to the 1994 World Cup and are currently hoping to extend it to 8. The current streak of opening matches only started with the 1998 World Cup. Mexico’s streak might now be seen as something common, but prior to it, only once in their history had they avoided defeat in their World Cup opener outside of the two World Cups held in Mexico.

Before the 1970 World Cup, Mexico had participated in 6 World Cups, but had only once not lost their opener. In the 1966 World Cup, Mexico made their debut with a 1-1 tie against France, would tie both openers in the World Cups played in Mexico with a 0-0 tie against the U.S.R.R. and a 2-1 victory over Belgium in the 1986 World Cup. In between those two competitions, Mexico would miss out in qualifying to the 1974 and 1982 World Cups as well as lose all three matches in the 1978 World Cup. El Tri would return to the World Cups in 1994 after being disqualified for the 1990 World Cup because of cheating in youth tournaments. With the support from the large number of nationals in the United States, where the 1994 edition was played, Mexico was placed in the Group of Death. Their start couldn’t have been worse when they lost 1-0 against Norway in their opener, their last opening loss. Still, they bounced back to defeat Ireland and get a tie against Italy to eventually win the group in a strange tournament where all four teams finished with 4 points.

Mexico started their current streak in 1998, when although Mexico came into the tournament with a bad streak ofresults, they defeated South Korea by a 3-1 score in their opener. Eventually, they would get two more ties and finish in 2nd place as they qualified to the Round of 16. In 2002, Mexico had a tough hurdle when they faced 3rd place finisher in 1998, Croatia, in the first World Cup held in Asia. Mexico would get a 1-0 win off a PK by Cuauhtemoc Blanco as they went on to win the group. In 2006, Mexico were the seeded team and got an easier group than normal. their campaign started with a 3-1 win over Iran as they once again qualified to the Round of 16, although by the skin of their teeth.

In 2010, Mexico once again were in the opening match facing the hosts. They got a 1-1 tie against South Africa in a match where they had to come from behind. The point ended up being huge as they would finish with the same number of points than South Africa, but their better goal difference saw them through to the Round of 16, for the first time ever leaving out the hosts in the group stage. In 2014, Mexico were once again placed with the hosts, but this time wouldn’t play the opener. Instead, they played the second match of the tournament and grabbed a 1-0 win over Cameroon. The Aztecas would finish with 7 points and qualify to the Round of 16 along with hosts Brazil. In 2018, Mexico had their best ever opener when they shocked the world with a 1-0 win over then current World Cup champions Germany. Eventually, Mexico would qualify in 2nd place to the Round of 16, making it the first time in a World Cup where Germany failed to get out of the group stage.

Mexico will hope to keep a more important streak alive this time around in making the Round of 16, although they will keep their opening match undefeated streak for at least four more years. With Mexico hosting part of the 2026 World Cup and having matches on home soil, they will probably keep the streak going or it otherwise would be a disaster not extending it to 2030, should they qualify to that tournament.