Mexico face Poland in a crucial Group C match from Stadium 974 in Doha. This stadium has an interesting history because it has been made from 974 recycled shipping containers.
Which of these teams will be sailing out of the competition early though? With Argentina likely group winners then the result of this fixture could be extremely important and a defeat for either team might be fatal.
Based on Mexico and Poland’s World Cup qualifiers, I’ve drawn together the numbers for goals, shots, corners and cards so you can pick a winning bet builder. See a player who loves a foul? Back him for a card. See a player who pops off shots like there’s no tomorrow? Back them for a few shots. Or you can use my Stats Pack Guide to assist your picks too.
Gerardo Martino has overseen 63 previous games for the Mexican national team and on nearly every occasion he’s lined up with a 4-3-3 formation.
That won’t be changing here, and the only real question mark is upfront where it is hoped that Wolves’ Raúl Jiménez will be fit to start. He’s suffered several injury problems this season but did play 45 mins in a recent friendly vs Sweden.
Club America forward Henry Martin is waiting as an alternative should Jiménez not be deemed fit enough. Alexis Vega and Uriel Antuna will battle it out to start at the left wing position.
Antuna got into a mini fight with teammate Jorge Sanchez on the field in that aforementioned friendly, so might miss out.
Poland were expected to lineup in a 3-4-2-1 system which the manager has recently been working on, but appear to be matching Mexico’s 4 at the back.
The whole squad is deemed fully fit apart from striker Adam Buksa was officially ruled out of the tournament a week ago with an injury. He would have likely only been on the bench anyway.
Mexico finished second in CONCACAF final qualifying and averaged 1.21 goals per 90 mins. They significantly underachieved their xG of 1.96 per 90 mins and there remains a question mark of putting the ball into the back of the net.
They averaged a decent 14.25 shots per match but only 3.75 on target tells its own story. They would appear to be a wasteful finishing team.
Mexico averaged a decent 6 corners per 90 mins and 3 against. Defensively, they are reasonably assured, only conceding 0.57 goals per 90 mins. It is noticeable that they average 2.71 cards against, and this isn’t a surprise considering the usual technical nature of this Mexican squad.
Poland averaged 2.91 goals per 90 mins in qualifying which was significantly higher than their xG of 1.82. It certainly helps having a world class striker like Robert Lewandowski in their ranks.
Poland averaged a high number of shots per game (14.55) with an impressive 5.91 SOT per 90 mins. This is a team which averaged nearly 7 corners per match and similar to Mexico, had a high average number of cards against at exactly 3 per 90 mins. Poland only conceded on average one goal per game but did concede 7.55 shots per fixture of which 2.91 were SOT.
In total, this Polish team picked up 24 yellow cards in European qualifying which was one of the highest of any team in that section. They are certainly prone to some ill-discipline.
Player shots and shots on target
Alexis Vega has the best average SOT ratio of any significant Mexican player in qualifying. He also averaged 3.29 shots per match, so if he starts then he is a major candidate to pepper the Poland goal.
Hirving Lozano averaged 4.26 shots per 90 mins in qualifying, the most of any Mexican. However, he had a poor SOT ratio of just 1.10. Raúl Jiménez ranked even worse in that department, averaging a terrible 0.65 SOT per 90 mins compared to his 3.92 shots per game. The Mexicans do not hit the target regularly enough, so it is better to concentrate on their shot market rather than SOTs.
Unsurprisingly, Robert Lewandowski ranks high for both shots per 90 mins (4.54) and SOTs (2.28). He converts roughly half of his shots on target which is an impressive rate.
It is interesting that Krzysztof Piatek has an even higher average shot rate per match than Lewandowski, but he is expected to be on the bench. Piatek could be one to watch in-running should he come on as a substitute though.
Adam Buksa is ruled out of the tournament due to injury and of the Poland attackers, Milik is by far the most wasteful, only averaging 0.62 SOT per match. Attacking midfielder Karol Swiderski is more clinical, averaging 1.84 SOT per 90 mins compared to just 2.08 shots.
Player goals and assists
Raúl Jiménez led the scoring charts for Mexico with three goals but as aforementioned, his overall SOT rate was poor. He should start this match but comes into the tournament under an injury cloud so might not be fully fit.
Mexico’s top assist provider during qualifying, Jesus Corona, is ruled out of the tournament through injury. Henry Martin, who will likely play a significant part of this match and could even start if Jiménez is injured, scored 2 goals in 2 qualifying starts.
The first place to look with Poland is Robert Lewandowski. This lethal forward scored 9 goals and also supplied 4 assists during qualifying. If Poland are to get on the scoresheet, then he is the prime candidate. Karol Swiderski also weighed in with 5 qualifying goals and is one to watch in the final third of the field. Adam Buksa is ruled out of the tournament through injury so isn’t one to consider on this list.
Mexico are persistent foulers and regularly obtain cards. Should Nestor Araujo start, or even feature at any stage then he is a massive candidate to pick up a card. He obtained 4 in just 9 qualifying starts which is nearly a 50% rate.
Ajax midfielder Edson Alvarez averaged 1.98 fouls per 90 mins, in addition to picking up three cards. Another man in the middle, Hector Herera averaged 1.63 fouls per match and picked up a couple of cards. Hirving Lozano had the highest average fouls per 90 mins (2.07) in qualifying for Mexico.
Robert Lewandowski was on average fouled 2.65 times during qualifying and will be a huge handful for the Mexican defenders.
Karol Swiderski (2.76) and midfielder Grzegorz Krychowiak (2.73) also attracted a significant number of fouls per 90 mins. Swiderski could be difficult to pick up and operate as a shadow striker. It is likely that Edson Alvarez might get the job to cover him.
Matchups to watch
Hector Moreno/Nestor Araujo vs Robert Lewandowski
Edson Alvarez vs Karol Swiderski
Hector Herrera vs Piotr Zielinski
Grzegorz Krychowiak is a serial fouler, averaging nearly 3 per 90 mins which is a significant amount. He also picked up two yellow cards during the qualifying campaign and is probably the most likely Polish player to go in the book here.
The other serial Polish foulers in qualifying such as Mateusz Klich and Karol Linetty are both expected to be on the bench. Centre back Jan Bednarek averages less than one foul per match but did pick up two cards during qualifying and obtained 10 yellows for Southampton in 31 Premier League appearances last season.
The trio of Raúl Jiménez, Hirving Lozano and Uriel Antuna all on average were close to being fouled nearly 3 times each per 90 mins. The wingers would especially look like the most likely players to draw fouls.
There is a clash of tactical systems here with Poland set to use wing backs. Matty Cash and Nicola Zalewski could both have their hands full, whilst Jiménez vs Bednarek could be an interesting matchup as well.
Matchups to watch
Nicola Zalewski vs Hirving Lozano
Grzegorz Krychowiak vs Luis Chavez
Jan Bednarek vs Raúl Jiménez