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For 7th (!) straight World Cup, Mexico exits in the Round of 16

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The curse of the fifth game lives on.

Brazil v Mexico: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Hector Vivas/Getty Images

For the seventh consecutive World Cup, Mexico made it out of the group stage, and for the seventh consecutive World Cup, they failed to advance any farther. The team lost to Brazil 2-0 on Monday.

It’s a stunning run of bad luck for a team that appears perpetually on the verge of becoming a world power, but never quite breaking through.

Mexico’s current streak started in 1994 at the World Cup hosted in the United States, when they advanced out of the group stage and then lost in the Round of 16 to Bulgaria on penalties. In 1998, it was Germany who sent them home. Four years later, at the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, the honor belonged to the United States, who beat them by the famous scoreline of dos a cero.

In 2006, it was Argentina, 2-1, in extra time. In 2010, Argentina again, this time by a 3-1 scoreline. It 2014, the Netherlands beat them, 2-1, overcoming a Giovani Dos Santos goal. And in 2018, it was Brazil.

It’s a stunning run of bad luck, both in finishes and the opponents they’ve drawn. Other than Bulgaria in 1994 and the United States in 2002, Mexico faced: Germany, Argentina, Argentina, Netherlands, Brazil. Those are five extremely tough opponents.

It’s tempting to draw some bigger conclusions out of this, but it could be a sort of tidy reflection of two things that are true: Mexico are, and have been, just outside the top echelon of international sides, and they’ve gotten pretty shitty luck in who they have drawn at these World Cup matches. Or there’s some curse that won’t allow them to play a fifth game at the World Cup. Possibly that.