Argentina saw their 36-game unbeaten run evaporate against Saudi Arabia. La Albiceleste had three goals chalked off for offside, and Expected Goals favoured Argentina by a margin of 2.30 to 0.15. Argentina sits third in the FIFA Rankings, ten places ahead of their opponents in this game. El Tri had “the Great Wall of Mexico”, Guillermo Ochoa, to thank for preserving a point for them against Poland, saving Robert Lewandowski’s second-half penalty. It’s unlikely that Mexico will be able to match the 61% possession they enjoyed against Poland, against Lionel Scaloni’s side, who had 69% of the ball themselves against Saudi Arabia.
This will be the fourth World Cup meeting between these teams, with Argentina triumphing on the three previous occasions, though they needed extra time to seal the deal in 2006. Mexico has won just five of the previous 35 encounters, with 16 wins for La Albiceleste and 14 draws. Both teams are likely to play with four at the back, Argentina favours a 4-4-2 formation, with plenty of width, while Mexico will hope to take advantage of an extra man in the middle of the park, in their 4-3-3 set-up. Defeat for El Tri would likely bring a run of seven appearances in the last 16 of a World Cup to an end. A loss for Argentina would be unthinkable for the two-time champions.