In 1930, Mexico was knocked out of the first ever World Cup in the group phase. In 1934, they didn’t qualify. They didn’t participate in 1938. For World Cups 1950, 1954, 1958, 1962, and 1966, Mexico was eliminated in the group stage. By 1970, as hosts, they improved, making it to the quarterfinals where they lost to Italy. In 1974, they didn’t qualify; in 1978, they were eliminated in the group stage; and for 1982, they again didn’t qualify.
As hosts, yet again, in 1986, their luck in the world’s largest tournament was going to improve. They were recovering from a major earthquake prior to the tournament, and, as it turned out, the World Cup was a great motivational force to get the nation back on its feet again. Led by Hugo Sanchez, one of their most notorious forwards, Mexico played very well, leading their group which consisted of Paraguay, Belgium, and Iraq.
They drew a massive audience. Their opener—a 2-1 victory over Belgium—was held in the Estadio Azteca Stadium in front of an estimated 110,000 people, and the crowd chanted, “Mexico…Mexico!” Then, in front of over 114,000 people, they defeated Bulgaria in the second round. But, upon reaching the quarterfinals, they switched venues from Mexico City to Monterrey and lost to West Germany in front of approximately 41,000 spectators. Mexico didn’t compete in 1990.
Then came the second-round blues. For World Cups 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014, they were eliminated in the round of 16. Based on this record, it may seem as though Mexico will take many years to win the World Cup. They are certainly hoping to raise the trophy sooner, and Russia 2018 represents a perfect opportunity.
Within the realm of CONCACAF, Mexico has a rich tradition of winning. They’ve won multiple championships in the CONCACAF Championship (held from 1963-1989) and the Gold Cup (1991 to the present), including in 1965, 1971, 1977, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2003, 2009, 2011 and 2015.
As of 2017, Mexico placed fourth in the Confederations Cup in Russia.