The final stage of CONCACAF World Cup qualification is more than halfway over, with only two packed international windows remaining before qualifying is complete.
A quick review of the table over eight matches sees Mexico in third place, occupying the last automatic qualifying spot. While that would be disappointing for the North American powerhouse, it would still work, and a closer look at the standings shows that it’s still anyone’s game.
Despite that, the current position has coach Tata Martino under pressure, as losses to the United States and Canada were missed opportunities early on.
With six games remaining, Mexico is just two points behind first-place Canada, one point behind second-place United States, and even on points behind fourth-place Panama. It’s a jam near the top. The top three places qualify directly for the World Cup, while fourth place advances to an intercontinental playoff against the winner from Oceania. Therefore, it will be key to snatch a place in the top three and avoid that last tiring and stressful step.
|5. Costa Rica||9||8||two||3||3||6||7||-one|
|7. El Salvador||6||8||one||4||3||4||10||-6|
We look at how Mexico can secure a top three finish and qualify directly for the World Cup, as the margins are extremely slim.
How many points to qualify for the World Cup?
If we use previous regional qualifying cycles for the World Cup for historical comparisons, we need to use the metric of points per game (PPG), since only 10 games have been played in the final round of CONCACAF in recent years compared to 14 in the calendar. in the run up to Qatar 2022.
The top three finishers (points per game in bold) qualified directly for each World Cup listed below. And beginning with the 2006 World Cup, the fourth-place team advanced to a play-in series against a nation from another region.
* = Current points per game based on CONCACAF 2022 standings after seven games
What is obvious from the table above is that a figure of 1.7 or 1.8 points per game (or more) seems to be the magic number. Mexico is currently in a clip of 1.75 points per game with six games to play, which leaves them on the edge of the precipice. As mentioned above, the margins are fine: teams falling into the 1.6-point-per-game territory have sweated it out during some of the last few World Cup cycles.
Mexico was sailing, with four wins from their first six matches, but the losses to the US and Canada came in back-to-back games, beginning a slight drop to third place. Mexico now has games against Jamaica and Costa Rica that present chances to turn the tide, but any slip up against those two could leave El Tri in deep trouble.
Calendar of the World Cup qualifiers in Mexico
Despite being third, Mexico is in an advantageous position of programming. He has completed two games with leader Canada, and has only one game left against the United States, a home game. In fact, Mexico has four of its last six home games, and there are plenty of opportunities to pick up points against teams below El Tri in the table.
|Coincide||Date||Opponent / Result||Reflexes||PPG|
|one||Thursday, September 2, 2021||Mexico 2, Jamaican 1||Reflexes||3.0|
|two||Sunday, September 5, 2021||Costa Rican 0, Mexico one||Reflexes||3.0|
|3||Wed, September 8, 2021||Panama 1, Mexico one||Reflexes||23|
|4||Thursday, October 7, 2021||Mexico 1, Canada 1||Reflexes||2.0|
|5||Sun, October 10, 2021||Mexico 3, Honduran 0||Reflexes||2.2|
|6||Wed, October 13, 2021||savior 0, Mexico two||Reflexes||23|
|7||Fri, November 12, 2021||United States 2, Mexico 0||Reflexes||2.0|
|8||Tuesday, November 16, 2021||canada 2, Mexico one||Reflexes||1.8|
|9||Thursday, January 27, 2022||Mexico @ Jamaica|
|10||Sunday, January 30, 2022||Mexico vs. Costa Rica|
|eleven||Wed, February 2, 2022||Mexico vs. Panama|
|12||Thu, March 24, 2022||Mexico vs. USA|
|13||Sun, March 27, 2022||Mexico @ Honduras|
|14||Wed, March 30, 2022||Mexico vs. El Salvador|
So what realistically needs to happen for Mexico to be comfortably in that 1.7-1.8 points per game range it needs to qualify without breaking a sweat?
We try to project a series of upcoming results, taking a less favorable set of results: points lost at home to Costa Rica and the United States, plus an away draw with Jamaica. Both losses to this point have come on the road against teams in good form.
Assuming El Tri can avoid more losses, which is possible given the heavy home roster, and finish strong, that would put El Tri at a level 1.86 points per game, and presumably in a comfortable position.
Still, there is little room for error. A loss anywhere would mean Mexico would need to pick up points elsewhere, like defeating the United States or avoiding losing points in Jamaica.
Projection of results for Mexico (3W-2L-1D)
|Coincide||Date||Opponent / Result||PPG|
|9||Thursday, January 27, 2022||Jamaica 1, Mexico 1 (Draw)||1.7|
|10||Sunday January 30, 2022||Mexico 2, Costa Rica 2 (Draw)||1.6|
|eleven||Wednesday, February 2, 2022||Mexico 2, Panama 0 (Victory)||1.7|
|12||Thursday, March 24, 2022||Mexico 0, United States 0 (Draw)||1.7|
|13||Sunday March 27, 2022||Honduras 1, Mexico 2 (Victory)||1.8|
|14||Wednesday, March 30, 2022||Mexico 3, El Salvador 0 (Victory)||1.9|
CONCACAF qualifying playoffs
There is always the possibility that the CONCACAF standings are very tight and that Mexico is tied on points with one or more of the other seven nations in the standings. Currently, they are tied on points with Panama, but above them in the tiebreakers, which are presented in the following order:
- Goal difference in all group matches
- Most goals scored in all group matches
- Most points obtained in the group matches between the teams in question
- Goal difference from the group matches between the teams in question
- Most goals scored in group matches between the teams in question
- Goals scored away from home (if two teams are tied)
- Discipline points (based on yellow/red cards)
- FIFA draw
The Qatar World Cup will be played from November 21 to December 18, 2022.