Mexico take on Poland in a potentially pivotal encounter in Group C on Tuesday, November 22nd.
The match will kick-off at 4pm GMT in Doha, Qatar, at Stadium 974, which is the first temporary venue in World Cup history, having been constructed from 974 recycled shipping containers.
Former Argentina boss and player Gerardo Martino is the man tasked with breaking that cycle in Qatar, having been in charge of El Tri since January 2019.
The 60-year-old, who spent a season with Barcelona before taking the Argentina job in 2014, guided Mexico to their eighth Gold Cup triumph by beating USA in the final in 2019, before the Americans gained their revenge on his side two years later.
Mexico’s place at the World Cup was secured with a 2-0 win against El Salvador on the final matchday, as they finished level on points with Canada at the top of CONCACAF qualifying, and crucially three points clear of Costa Rica in the play-off spot.
Whether they have the talent at their disposal to make a serious fist of reaching the last eight for the first time since hosting the tournament in 1986 remains to be seen, but their upcoming fixture against Poland could be crucial in terms of advancing from Group C.
Poland, meanwhile, are aiming to progress beyond the group stage for the first time since Mexico ’86, with their opening game against that nation likely to be crucial given that outright second favourites Argentina are also in their group.
The Eagles have fallen at the first hurdle in each of their last three World Cup appearances in 2002, 2006 and 2018 – winning one match and losing two in each of those editions – having failed to hit the heights of finishing third in 1974 and 1982.
Former Legia Warslaw boss Czeslaw Michniewicz was appointed as head coach earlier this year, making himself an almost instant hero in the position by guiding the Poles to a 2-0 win against Sweden in a qualifying play-off to reach Qatar.
As has often been the case in the past decade or so, their hopes of performing well at a major tournament heavily hinge on the form of legendary forward Robert Lewandowski, who is still yet to score at a World Cup having blanked in all three matches in 2018.
The 34-year-old will be determined to rectify that unwanted record against Mexico on Tuesday, and potentially put his nation in the driving seat for the second spot in Group C in the process.