Far be it from me to defend Mexico, but let’s talk about this fifth round “quinto partido” curse for a minute.
And it really shouldn’t take much longer.
[ RECAP: Brazil 2-0 Mexico ]
There’s obviously no denying that Mexico continues to lose in the Round of 16, and that 2002 was an absolute nightmare.
For them. Let’s be clear: It was pretty much the best day in American soccer history.
But if anything, look at the wonderful below graphic assembled by our beautiful NBC Sports Soccer crew.
Mexico has lost to better teams more times than not, and their only crime of this World Cup, one in which they beat Germany, is that they didn’t win the group and play Switzerland instead of Brazil.
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But that Dos a Cero aside, look at the teams that knocked them out and the margins. Mexico scored in the majority of the contests. And they mostly lost to giants.
The curse scales runs from level 1 (no shame) to level 10 (Come on, Mexico).
1994: A team largely devoid of superstars came up against Hristo Stoichkov and Bulgaria. Both teams scored inside of 20 minutes, and Mexico blew it in penalties. Bulgaria, for what it’s worth, then took eventual finalists Roberto Baggio and Italy to the wire in a 2-1 quarterfinal lost. Curse level: 6
1998: This one feels a bit curselike, but only on account of how the match played out. A Luis Hernandez goal put El Tri ahead just after halftime. But Germany, led by Jurgen Klinsmann, scored in the 74th and 86h (Oliver Bierhoff) to win it. Those are a pair of German legends on a team with fellow legends Lothar Matthaus and Andreas Moller. Curse level: 2
2002: Dos A Cero. -clap-clap-clapclapclap- Dos A Cero. -clap-clap-clapclapclap- Curse level: 100
2006: Given a group with Iran, Angola, and Portugal, El Tri had four points before losing to favorites Portugal in the finale. That led to Argentina, who had emerged unscathed from a group with Serbia, the Netherlands, and the Ivory Coast. Rafa Marquez and Hernan Crespo traded goals inside of 10 minutes, and extra time saw a 19-year-old Lionel Messi touch the ball twice in the build-up to this outlandish 98th minute Maxi Rodriguez goal. Curse level: 1
2010: Hopes were high thanks to an upset of chaotic France, but Mexico again drew an Argentina side that went 3-0 despite the absence of a single Messi group stage goal. He didn’t score in the Round of 16 either, but losing to two goals from Carlos Tevez and a Gonzalo Higuain goal shows just how loaded the Argentine contingent was in South Africa. Curse level: 2
2014: El Tri was feeling great under Miguel Herrera, as Piojo oversaw wins over Croatia and Cameroon along with an impressive draw with hosts Brazil. Tiebreakers meant a meeting with eventual semifinalists Netherlands, and Giovani dos Santos scored to give Mexico a 48th minute lead. This one, however, carries a bit of curse for how it ended; Wesley Sneijder scored in the 88th minute before Klaas-Jan Huntelaar converted a penalty won… well… controversially by
some clown Arjen Robben. #NoEraPenal. Curse level: 8
Which brings us to 2018: Is losing to a tournament favorite in any way considered a curse? No. Not at all. Is losing to the third-best player in the world while he dives around like the worst example of a soccer stereotype cursey enough to go past curse level zero? Sure, but you did step on the dude’s leg with an immense amount of cameras around. If Casemiro did the same to Javier Hernandez, the little pea would still be rolling on the ground as you read this. Curse level: 1