Mexico – World Cup 2014 – Group A

MEXICO

13-June Mexico (5pm GMT Natal)

17-June Croatia (8pm GMT Fortaleza)

23-June Brazil (9pm GMT Recife)

Mexico will be hoping that their forgettable qualifying campaign is not a sign of the fate that awaits them in Brazil this summer, writes Varun Mathure

Coach: Miguel Herrera

The 5-foot-6-inch 46-year-old packs a stocky figure on the Mexican bench – and it is a place he is still getting used to having only being appointed in charge of the national team in October last year. Herrera was the fourth man to lead the Mexicans during a tumultuous qualifying campaign, but the 9-3 aggregate play-off win over New Zealand saw him confirmed until the end of the World Cup.

Why they could be dangerous

If it wasn't for USA's late winner against Panama on the last day of the qualifiers, Mexico could very well have had a summer confined to watching the action in Brazil from their television sets. Miguel Herrera led Club America to their 11th League title in 2013 and he is a man who has excelled in adversity before. Since the loss to Costa Rica in his first game, the Mexicans have been unbeaten in six matches and are starting to show signs of functioning as a unit.

The world on his shoulders: Javier Hernandez

Chicharito seemed destined to become the next big thing in world football after a wonderful first year at Manchester United back in 2010-11, when he netted 20 times in just 45 appearances. But Hernandez's rise has stalled in the last couple of campaigns and there are suggestions he could move on from the Red Devils after this season. There will be no better place to put yourself on the market than in Brazil where Mexico will need him to be at his best.

Did you know?

Mexico have managed to advance past the group stage in each of the last five World Cups dating back to USA '94. Sadly, for El Tri, their journey has also ended in the Round of 16 on each of these occasions. The last time they got further than that was at their home World Cup in 1986.

Country legend: Hugo Sanchez

Hugo Sanchez was voted as the best Mexican footballer of the 20th Century by the IFFHS and there are not many that will dispute that award. Sanchez made a name for himself in Spain where he led the attack for both Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid. But it was with Los Blancos that he enjoyed the most success winning five successive La Liga titles and scoring 208 goals which puts him in their top six scorers of all time.

Formation: 3-5-2

Herrera is known to use three centre-backs and this sees El Tri line-up in a 3-5-2 or a modified 3-2-3-2. The former Club America manager's version of this formation allows for width and, while the results over New Zealand have to be taken with a pinch of salt, they did have the desired effect as the team found its scoring boots again.

Mexico versus…

…Brazil P38 W10 D6 L22 F36 A71

…Cameroon P1 W1 D0 L0 F1 A0

…Croatia P3 W1 D0 L2 F2 A5

Stats

Population: 118 million

World Cup appearances: 14

Best finish: Quarter-finalists in Mexico 1986 and Mexico 1970

Famous for: Passionate fans and unpredictability. Due to the numerous changes in personnel, it will be difficult for Mexico's opponents to prepare a case file on them. Will their run of consistently making it out of the group stages continue?

Top Division: Liga MX

How they got to the World Cup: Beat New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate in the CONCACAF-Oceania play-off

FIFA World Ranking: 19

Last World Cup Appearance: South Africa 2010 – Round of 16

Continental Honours: Gold Cup winners – 1965, 1971, 1977, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011

Most Capped Player: Claudio Suarez (178 caps)

Leading International Scorer: Jared Borgetti (46 goals)

Nickname: El Tri – The Tricolour