No matter the outcome, Tuesday’s encounter between Mexico and Poland will make history as it will take place at Stadium 974, the first-ever temporary venue to host a World Cup fixture.
This stunning creation made of 974 recycled shipping containers will serve to host games at the tournament before being dismantled and transported to Maldonado, Uruguay, for its subsequent usage in 2030.
Placed in Group C alongside Argentina and Saudi Arabia, Mexico and Poland are widely expected to battle it out for a second-spot finish, highlighting the importance of this contest.
It took more frustration than usual, but the Mexicans have qualified for their eighth straight World Cup finals as runners-up in the CONCACAF qualifying group behind Canada.
Having made it out of the group stage in their last seven World Cup appearances in a row, El Tri won’t accept anything less than advancing into the round of 16.
That’s when the problems often ensue as head coach Gerardo Martino carries the burden of defying Mexico’s infamous ‘Curse of the Fifth Game’ this winter.
As for Poland, they wouldn’t mind bowing out of the first knockout round, considering they last navigated a group stage campaign in the World Cup 36 years ago in Mexico.
It’s up to standout performer Robert Lewandowski to inspire the Eagles’ bid to shine at major international tournaments, something that evaded them in the past four years.
Two years since completing an underwhelming 2018 World Cup campaign in Russia after three matches, Poland finished their 2020 European Championship journey in the group stage last summer.
Also See: Argentina v Saudi Arabia preview.
Martino tightened up Mexico’s backline during the 2022 World Cup qualifying, with no nation from the CONCACAF confederation keeping more clean sheets than El Tri (eight).
If they are to make their 17th World Cup appearance count, staying compact at the back could prove crucial for the Mexicans, who have won their opening group stage match in five of their last six tournaments (D1).
Channelling fine form of their World Cup qualification cycle, where they only lost two of their 14 games (W8, D4), would almost guarantee them a place in the knockout stage.
Poland have qualified for the knockout phase only once in their last four World Cup appearances, testifying to a lack of credentials on the big stage.
Since last reaching the round of 16 in 1986, the Poles have suffered an alarming eight defeats in their 11 outings at the tournament, including two in Russia four years ago (W1).
Prone to making sluggish World Cup starts, they have only won one of their eight previous World Cup curtain-raising fixtures (D3 L4), courtesy of a 3-2 beating of Argentina in 1974.
Mexico vs Poland Potential Line-ups
Mexico (4-3-3): Guillermo Ochoa; Jorge Sanchez, Johan Vasquez, Cesar Montes, Gerardo Arteaga; Carlos Rodriguez, Edson Alvarez, Hector Herrera; Hirving Lozano, Raul Jimenez, Alexis Vega.
Poland (3-5-2): Wojciech Sczcesny; Jan Bednarek,Kamil Glik, Jakub Kiwior; Matty Cash, Sebastian Szymansky, Bielik, Piotr Zielinski, Nicola Zalewski; Robert Lewandowski, Karol Swiderski.
Mexico vs Poland Prediction
If Poland are to have a foothold in this match, Lewandowski will have to be at his best.
While back-to-back 1-0 wins over Chile and Wales, respectively, offer the Europeans hope that they can edge Mexico, we expect El Tri to start on the front foot.
Mexico 1-0 Poland
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