Mexico fell 0-2 to Argentina on Saturday at the Lusail Stadium, as goals from Lionel Messi and Enzo Fernandez propelled the Albiceleste to all three points.
El Tri kicked off strong in the first half, shutting down Argentina in the final third before managing three shots and one on goal. But the second 45 saw a defeated Mexico side take the field, constantly overwhelmed by Argentina before Messi and Fernandez found the back of the net.
El Tri now sits in last place of the Group C standings, with just one point from the 0-0 draw against Poland. In order to qualify for the Round of 16, Mexico must defeat Saudi Arabia and hope for a desirable result in the match between Argentina and Poland.
Should Poland win, Mexico would go through with any victory over Saudi Arabia. If Argentina triumph, goal differential would come into play, forcing Mexico to score at least three goals on Wednesday. Though the path may be complicated, head coach Gerardo Martino insists Mexico’s fight isn’t over.
“As long as you have the chance, you have to try, Arabia they have the same need, they need the win and need to score goals, in life and as footballers we are used to taking it, difficult, the second goal from Poland hurt and the second from Argentina also,” he said.
“Difficult chances, we need a winner on the other side, if it’s by several goals, better. Without a doubt, because after what I saw today in the match, with dignity, I have no doubt that we are going to do it and try with everything that we have.”
The coach then went on to explain the highly criticized substitutions in the second half that led to Mexico’s downfall.
“Guardado had a muscle injury, the truth is that the six or seven minutes of the first half and the 15 of the second half until before the goal we played with the same solvency,” he said.
“Chucky asked me to change before the goal, we returned to our usual scheme, we failed in very small things in the first goal, giving space to the midfielders in the sector, in five minutes it hurts you, 30 seconds hurts you.”
Mexico has qualified for the Round of 16 in their past seven World Cup appearances, raising the stakes for 2022. The team last remained in the tournament’s group stage in 1978, losing against Poland, West Germany and Tunisia.
Mexico concludes the group stage on Wednesday against Saudi Arabia at the Lusail Stadium.