Serial second-rounders Mexico are back for another crack at reaching the elusive quarter-finals in 2018.
Juan Carlos Osario’s side are no stranger to the World Cup finals, having appeared at the previous six.
Getting beyond the testing last-16 has proved another obstacle, however, with the Mexicans eliminated at that stage on each of those tournaments.
They’ve got plenty of experience in their squad to potentially equal the last-eight sides of 1970 and ’86 this summer.
But even progressing past the first round in Russia could be seen as an achievement, given the tricky group they find themselves in.
Breezing through the CONCACAF fifth round qualifying with just one loss against their name, Mexico topped their group by five points.
El Tricolor triumphed over the surprise package of the 2014 World Cup, Costa Rica, as well as rivals USA who failed to reach the finals.
Their group in Russia will be a sterner test though, as they will come up against the might of Germany – who beat them 4-1 convincingly in last summers Confederations Cup.
A recent 1-0 friendly win over ten-man Bosnia did little to suggest 2018 could be their year.
And forthcoming tests against Iceland, Croatia and Denmark will provide more of an idea of Mexico’s credentials.
Read our comprehensive guide to the 2018 World Cup HERE.
‘Chicarito’ is a familiar figure to most football heads around the globe by now.
At the time of writing, Javier Hernandez is just one appearance away from his 100th cap, and one goal from his 50th international strike – boasting an impressive 1-in-2 ratio.
The 29-year-old striker has enjoyed an impressive career at Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, but has struggled since his move back to the Premier League with West Ham.
Whether that has impacted his international form is another question, as he only managed two goals in qualifying.
But this isn’t Hernandez’ first rodeo, as he prepares for his third finals – and in the past he has always delivered.
Back in 2010 it was ‘Chicarito’ who burst on to the scene as Mexico’s rising star.
And Russia 2018 could be the stage for ‘Chucky.’
That is the nickname of Mexican winger Hirving Lozano – who plies his trade at Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.
Lozano has impressed in the Dutch league since his move in the summer, and is a regular in the international squad.
His return of seven goals from 24 appearances is not to be sniffed at.
And he once finished as golden boot winner for the under-20s side in the CONCACAF Championships.
If he can recreate that form on the senior stage he’s sure to be a name on everyone’s lips.
Sunday June 17: Germany v Mexico, 4pm, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Saturday June 23: South Korea v Mexico, 4pm, Rostov Arena, Rostov-on-Don
Wednesday June 27: Mexico v Sweden, 3pm, Ekaterinburg Stadium, Ekaterinburg
Bookmakers William Hill go an unlikely 80/1 for Mexico to be champions of the world come July.
*odds correct at time of publishing
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