Mexico have been to the quarterfinals of the World Cup: Once in 1970 and against in 1986. Other than that, a nation that is mad about football and has over over eight million people participating in the sport, with a population of 118 million, can’t get past the round of 16, failing to do so in the 2014 World Cup for a sixth consecutive time.
Things don’t change. Mexico always impress in the group stage with attractive football that’s easy on the eyes. They always do well against the “bigger” nations in terms of football success, but even if they leave us with a good taste in our mouth about their ability, there’s something missing. We hardly see Mexican players star on the biggest stage of club football, and that translates into their lack of success in the World Cup compared to nations like Argentina with two championships or even Uruguay, although those titles came more than 60 years ago.
In 1994, back in the World Cup after the 1990 ban, Mexico finished first in a group that included Ireland, Italy and Norway. That drew them with Bulgaria, turning out to be the surprise of the tournament. Mexico went behind in the sixth minute (Hristo Stoichkov) but equalized soon from the penalty spot, Garcia Aspe scoring. The match reached a shootout, which Mexico lost, missing three of their four attempts.
Four years later in France Mexico were once again on top of a group that included the Netherlands and Belgium, not losing to them both. That gave them a match with Germany in the round of 16 and despite taking the lead in the 47th minute from a Luis Hernandez goal, Germany came back late in the match to win 2-1 (Klisnmann, Bierhoff).
In 2002 Mexico top their group that includes Italy, Croatia and Ecuador, dropping their only points in a draw against Italy. The round of 16 match turned out to be a loss to the United States, 2-0, something that wasn’t quite taken lightly against a CONCACAF rival Mexico have been used to dominating (although not anymore).
In 2006 it was Argentina who stood in their way after Mexico barely made it out of their group with Portugal, Angola and Iran. They played a great match against Argentina but after a 1-1 draw through the first 90 minutes, a beautiful Maxi Rodriguez goal sent them home.
In 2010 Mexico beat France en route to finishing second behind Uruguay in the group stage, landing them another match with Argentina. Things were going well until Carlos Tevez scored from an offside position, Mexico eventually losing 3-1 and going home.