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USA TODAY Sports’ Martin Rogers takes a take a look at the World Cup’s model spankin’ new replay system.
USA TODAY Sports

MOSCOW — Based of its performances and outcomes thus far, there isn’t any query that Mexico deserves to succeed in the spherical of 16 on the World Cup.

It has gained each of its first two video games, taking part in decided, enterprising and entertaining soccer. Its shows have been ok that many — this publication included — believes it’s a genuine threat to win the World Cup, shocking as that will have sounded earlier than the match.

Hirving Lozano is turning into a global star, Javier Hernandez is reproducing his best World Cup type and Guillermo Ochoa is remembering the way to be a world-class goalkeeper. What could go flawed?

However, due to a quirk within the outcomes and standings of Group F, Mexico, for all its tremendous efforts thus far, sits one dangerous sport away from disaster. Ninety minutes from all of the tremendous work thus far being rendered out of date. A defeat to Sweden within the Siberian metropolis of Ekaterinburg on Wednesday, mixed with a highly-plausible victory for Germany over South Korea by two targets or larger, and El Tri would stunningly be bidding goodbye to the World Cup.

It hardly appears truthful. After all, host nation Russia and Uruguay each gained every of their opening video games and they’re assured to play within the knockout spherical. France did the identical, and it’s by means of. So too is Croatia, additionally on six factors, whereas Belgium was poised on Sunday to formally punch its ticket as nicely.

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So why is Mexico still in peril, as a substitute of having the ability to benefit from the fruits of its two excellent performances — an incredible 1-Zero upset win over Germany and a resilient 2-1 disposal of South Korea?

Blame Toni Kroos. Until Germany’s star midfielder rifled in a destiny-changing free-kick within the last moments of his group’s conflict with Sweden on Saturday evening, Mexico was in wonderful form. Had Germany v. Sweden ended 1-1, as appeared so doubtless, Juan Carlos Osorio’s group can be by means of to the knockout stage of the match for the seventh time in succession.

Instead, with Kroos’ profitable objective, issues have develop into mightily sophisticated, to the extent that Mexico still has loads of work to do and even South Korea, mired on the foot of the desk on zero factors, has a shot at making it into the highest 16 groups.

It shouldn’t matter. Mexico is a greater group than Sweden proper now, with much more attacking vitality, the next degree of confidence, and, after the Swedes suffered such a demoralizing setback courtesy of Kroos, far more momentum.

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If Osorio’s males play something like they did in video games one and two, then securing the required level in opposition to Sweden must be nicely inside their capabilities. That mentioned, there’ll still be some jangling nerves amongst Mexican followers, particularly if the group finds itself in a gap early on Wednesday.

Osorio should be delighted along with his group’s displaying thus far, only a month after Mexico supporters chanted for him to be sacked amid gloomy predictions for the World Cup marketing campaign. Yet there can be little room for complacency from the coach, with a spot within the knockout spherical looming however with hazard additionally lurking.

“We have received a lot of praise but remain focused nonetheless,” Osorio mentioned. “We want to celebrate but then it is back to work, focusing on the next match.”

It is just not in Mexico’s nature to play with negativity, although maintaining Sweden off the scoresheet can be sufficient to ensure that this uplifting World Cup journey continues, and that the hundreds of jubilant Mexico followers which have traveled right here proceed to social gathering.

Sweden, for its half, has no selection however to come back out offensively, given the sturdy probability that Germany, having earned itself a reprieve, ought to have an excessive amount of power and high quality for South Korea.

That mixture ought to lead to an entertaining sport, and we’d like no reminding that Mexico has been entertaining all through, whereas turning into one of many World Cup’s most pleasurable storylines.

The actuality that the dream could finish so all of a sudden is without doubt one of the competitors’s cruelest potential twists, but every part Mexico has proven thus far would point out it has the resolve and the character to beat its newest hurdle.

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