Mexico vs. Poland Odds & Prediction | World Cup Group C Best Bet

Mexico vs. Poland Odds & Prediction | World Cup Group C Best Bet article feature image

Eric Alonso/Getty. Pictured: Jorge Sanchez.

  • Mexico is a slight favorite over Poland in their World Cup opener on Tuesday.
  • El Tri faces one of the world's best strikers in Robert Lewandowski.
  • Anthony Dabbundo breaks down the game and makes his pick below.

Mexico vs. Poland Odds

Tuesday, Nov. 22
11 a.m. ET
Mexico Odds+150
Poland Odds+220
Over/Under2.5 (+162 / -200)
Both Teams to Score (Yes/No)(+105 / -143)
Odds via bet365. Get the latest World Cup odds here.

Even though Mexico and Poland are only just beginning their World Cup play on Tuesday, the Group C clash could be the most consequential match of the entire group.

If heavy favorite and second-tournament favorite Argentina wins this group and outclasses the rest of it from a talent perspective, Poland and Mexico are the two teams that oddsmakers expect to battle it out for second.

Saudi Arabia shouldn't be discounted, but Mexico and Poland have better squads and underlying numbers on paper and thus this match between them is very much a can't-lose situation for both. Neither team comes into this World Cup in particularly good form, which makes the matchup all that more intriguing.

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Mexico Have Questions Entering First Match

El Tri had the third best underlying numbers in CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying and there are certainly warning signs for them entering this World Cup cycle. Mexico feel as if they are between generations at the moment — still relying on players from past runs to the World Cup — but not quite turning the page to the youth, either.

The results coming into this tournament are mixed. Mexico failed to beat Canada or the United States in qualifying and then lost to Uruguay and Colombia in friendlies. A draw with Ecuador and wins against Peru and Iran paint a complicated picture of the current state of Mexico.

Striker Raul Jimenez is unlikely to start for Mexico after he played just 30 minutes in the final warm-up match. He's barely played for his club — Wolves — in the last few months. He's likely to be a sub, and Jesus Corona's recent injury leaves El Tri with a few questions in attack.

Napoli's Hirving Lozano is the main talisman in attack and he enters the World Cup in great form from his club team. Mexico should have the better midfield and be able to control the possession of this match with Ajax's Edson Alvarez and Houston's Hector Herrera in the midfield.

The question for Mexico at this World Cup is whether or not they have enough shot production without Jimenez, and how much he's even able to add when on the pitch.

Poland Led By Key Striker

Poland's recent run in international form has recently been defined by the presence of Robert Lewandowski and the failure to achieve much of anything as a collective team despite him.

They made the 2018 World Cup but were eliminated after consecutive defeats to Senegal and Colombia in two largely uncompetitive matches. Poland did manage to beat Japan on the final day of group play, but the Poles never sniffed the Round of 16.

Poland also qualified for the Euros last summer, but once again finished last in the group. They did manage a point against Spain in a good performance, but losses to Slovakia and Sweden sent them home. If Poland were expecting to turn their international major tournament fortunes around this year, it certainly didn't show up in the qualifying numbers.

13 teams qualify for the World Cup from Europe via qualifying. Throughout qualifying, Poland had the 12th-best defense by xG allowed and the 19th-best attack. By xG difference, Poland weren't good enough to qualify for the World Cup. Poland got a walkover into the playoff final because Russia were banned from qualifying, and they beat Sweden 2-0 to clinch their Qatar spot.

Lewandowski is an incredible finisher that produces a ton of shots by always be in the right places in the penalty area and possessing elite goal scoring instincts and positioning. At this stage of his career, Lewandowski isn't the kind of player who can be a one-man attack, though.

He doesn't press at all from the front without the ball, and he's not going to provide any ball progression into the penalty area either. His 0.81 non-penalty xG is one of the best in Europe, as is his shots per 90 total. But Lewandowski is just slightly above-average in progressive passes and he's not a ball carrier over large distances.

Because he's not in a dominant possession side and pace has never been his main strength, he gets disconnected for Poland sometimes. The Poles don't play with the ball a ton and I'd expect to see them playing long and direct to Lewandowski early and often on Tuesday.

Poland also don't come into this match in great form from the Nations League this summer. They lost all four matches to the Netherlands and Belgium, conceding 11 goals in those matches. They did beat Wales 1-0 and tied them in the other match.

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Mexico vs. Poland Prediction

From a purely fundamental perspective, Mexico should be more of a favorite than they are lined here. The match is a tossup, but Mexico's recent form and underlying numbers through qualifying are better than Poland's. Mexico are higher in my colleague BJ Cunningham's projections and ELO rates Mexico as the marginally better side. 

One argument for Poland — and one that is generally correlated but certainly not fully descriptive — is that Poland have the better squad according to transfer market value.

Poland doesn't have the midfield quality to control the flow and the ball in this match. The Poles run the risk of leaving Lewandowski isolated. He's the great equalizer and can even be a difference maker, but Mexico have the better back line and midfield in this match.

I'll trust that and El Tri's tournament experience in what is otherwise a tossup match. I'm skeptical of both teams in this tournament, but there are fewer reasons to believe that this international tournament will be any different for Poland. This match could well end in a draw, but Mexico are the more likely winner if there is one. I like the draw no bet line.

The Pick: Mexico – Draw No Bet (-115 or better)

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