On paper, arguably the most crucial, and evenly poised of all the first set of group games. It’s three wins apiece with two draws on the all-time ledger between these two nations, though Poland is unbeaten in the past five meetings. Mexico has been eliminated at the last-16 stage of every one of the past seven World Cups, leaving their supporters dreaming of finally reaching the elusive ”Quinto Partido” (fifth game). Their world ranking sums up their predicament. Currently ranked 13th, since 2020, El Tri has never been ranked better than 9th or worse than 14th, which mirrors their World Cup performances: good enough for the top-16 in the world, not quite good enough to make the quarter-finals.
Their bid to end that sequence suffered a blow when winger Jesús Manual Corona was ruled out of the event with a broken leg. Mexico had two warm-up games in November, against Iraq and Sweden. Poland beat Wales home and away in the Nations League but struggled against the Netherlands and Belgium. The White and Red arranged a warm-up game against Chile, whose style is somewhat like Mexico’s, and recorded a creditable 1-0 win. A tight, tense battle is expected at Stadium 974.