Mexico has a reputation for performing at a high level in World Cup group stages — and will need to live up to it to succeed in its 2018 opener.
Germany is the reigning World Cup champion, sure, but star midfielder Toni Kroos also has declared the 2018 team is “maybe even better” than 2014, particularly when it comes to its work on the ball.
The 2014 championship was the payoff of a cycle that began with a young group featuring Philip Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, which reached the semifinals in 2006 and 2010, losing each time to the eventual World Cup champ.
That group has retired, either from international competition or altogether, but their influence has helped unleash a renaissance for their national team.
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Mexico has had some hard luck in World Cup draws, including being grouped with host Brazil four years ago and with France, Uruguay and host South Africa in 2010. But Mexico has gotten a positive result in five consecutive openers — four victories, one draw — and reached knockout play in each of the past six World Cups.
World Cup schedule: Germany vs. Mexico
When: Sunday, June 17, 11 a.m. ET
Where: Moscow, Russia, Luzhniki Stadium
MORE: Full World Cup schedule
Germany vs. Mexico TV channel, live stream
In the U.S., Germany vs. Mexico will be broadcast live on FS1. It can also be live-streamed on fuboTV (7-day free trial).
Goalkeepers: Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Kevin Trapp
Defenders: Joshua Kimmich, Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, Antonio Rudiger, Matthias Ginter, Jonas Hector, Marvin Plattenhardt, Niklas Sule
Midfielders: Marco Reus, Toni Kroos, Mesut Ozil, Julian Brandt, Julian Draxler, Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Sami Khedira, Sebastian Rudy
Forwards: Thomas Muller, Mario Gomez, Timo Werner
Goalkeepers: Guillermo Ochoa, Jesus Corona, Alfredo Talavera
Defenders: Hugo Ayala, Carlos Salcedo, Jesus Gallardo,Diego Reyes, Hector Moreno, Edson Alvarez, Miguel Layun
Midfielders: Giovani Dos Santos, Jonathan Dos Santos, Rafael Marquez, Andres Guardado, Marco Fabian, Hector Herrera
Forwards: Chicharito, Jesus Manuel Corona, Hirving Lozano, Oribe Peralta, Raul Jimenez, Carlos Vela, Javier Aquino
MORE: Nine nations to root for
GERMANY VS MEXICO head to head
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Germany vs. Mexico facts
There is a common belief that national team managers function best when they are limited to a single World Cup cycle. Joachim Low has been in charge of Germany since 2006, succeeding Jurgen Klinsmann. He has coached in five previous major tournaments (World Cup or European Championship), reaching the semifinal round each time. His overall record is 106 wins, 25 losses and 30 draws.
Rafa Marquez, who headed in the goal late in the first game of the final round of CONCACAF qualify to start the U.S. slide toward missing the World Cup, is on the roster for his fifth World Cup. He captained the side in each of the previous four. He has made 144 appearances for Mexico, which is tied for 32nd among all world players. One of those tied with him is teammate Andres Guardado.
No team has won consecutive World Cups since Brazil in 1958 and 1962. The recent record for defending champions is not great. Three of the past four defending champions failed to advance beyond the group stage, and those teams earned a composite record of 5 wins, 5 losses and 1 draw. Italy (2010) and France (2002) failed to win a game. None since Brazil (1998) got as far as the semifinals.
Mexico hasn’t reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup since 1986, when the tournament was held in Mexico. They lost in that round to Germany, on penalty kicks following a scoreless draw in the northern city of San Nicolas.
Thomas Muller ranks No. 8 in career World Cup goals with 10. More than 26 percent of his national team goals have come in the biggest tournament. Of the 13 players in the top eight positions in all-time World Cup goals, only France’s Just Fontaine, West Germany’s Helmut Rahn and Peru’s Teofilo Cubillas scored a higher percentage of their national team goals at the World Cup.
Germany is participating in its 17th consecutive World Cup. Only Brazil (21 in a row, or every World Cup ever staged) has a longer streak.
Mexico has only beaten Germany once in 11 meetings. They met last year in the Confederations Cup, and Germany earned a 4-1 victory despite fielding a side that did not include Muller, Ozil, Boateng, Hummels, Reus or Kroos.
Mexico is the only team to qualify for 14 World Cups or more without winning the tournament.