67 min: Matty Cash robs Alexis Vega of the ball and prepares to gallop upfield but is penalised for a foul. He goes berserk with the referee but it’s a fair kop. He stamped on Vega’s foot as he relieved him of possesion.
From wide on the left, Luis Chavez sends in a delightful free-kick and the ball hits Hector Moreno on the shoulder and goes wide. That was a chance!
64 min: Wojciech Szczesny is called into action and parries a deflected Edson Alvarez shot from outside the penalty area clear. It was a great save, as Hirving Lozano got a little flick on the ball with his head as it sailed goalwards, forcing the wrongfooted goalkeeper to change direction.
61 min: Lewandwoski remains without a goal at a World Cup finals on his spectacular CV but only has himself to blame. He’ll never get a better chance than that to break his duck and looked disgusted with himself when Ochoa saved his sub-par effort.
59 min: Mexico’s fans are celebrating like they’ve just won the tournament, while the goalkeeper many of them love to hate and didn’t actually want in their team has excelled himself at yet another World Cup. Lewandowski’s penalty was a side-footed effort towards the bottom right-hand corner but Ochoa got down to save splendidly.
It remains scoreless! Guillermo Ochoa flings himself to his left and saves Lewandowski’s penalty.
Crikey! Hector Moreno gets booked for dragging out of Lewandowski’s shirt and Poland have a spot-kick.
54 min: Some long overdue excitement. Lewandwoski bursts between two defenders and goes to ground in the Mexico penalty area with Hector Moreno holding a large fistful of his shirt. Might Poland win a penalty? Referee Chris Beath is off to his pitchside monitor to have a look. I’ve seen them given for a lot less.
50 min: Jorge Sanchez combines with Hirving Lozano, who flicks the ball his way down the right. The full-back is unable to get a cross in but wins a corner, which Szczesny punches clear.
49 min: Poland free-kick, wide on the left, Piotr Zielinski’s delivery into the Mexico penalty area is overhit and sails wide. Dreadful.
47 min: From the left touchline, Robert Lewandowski sends a cross into the Mexico penalty area. Well, tries to send a cross into the Mexico penalty area. He actually sends the ball high, wide and into the stand behind the goal. Perhaps he was hoping to send it airborne enough so that he’d have time to get on the end of it himself.
46 min: Play resumes for the second half and Poland have made a change. Birmingham City’s Krystian Bielik is on for Nicola Zalewski.
Peep! The players go in for the break with the deadlock unbroken but it is those of Mexico who will be more content with their collective performance. They’ve looked far more enthusiastic than the Poles, who have been extremely cagey and bereft of ideas. Alexis Vega went closest for the Mexicans. Robert Lewandwoski has had one touch in the Mexico penalty area, to go with the nine touches he had in opposition penalty areas in three matches during the last World Cup.
45 min: Szczesny launches the ball long again, one of his teammates gets the flick on and Mexico clear up the second ball. This is fairly dismal from Poland.
44 min: The ball breaks towards Mexico right-back Jorge Sanchez on the right side of the Poland penalty area. He shoots from a tight angle, forcing a smart save out of Szczesny at his near post.
42 min: Not for the first, second, third, fourth or even fifth time in this game, Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny kicks the ball high and long upfield, only for Mexico to win possession. Robert Lewandowski must be getting very frustrated by his teammates’ apparent inability to win the ball.
39 min: An excellent Luis Chavez cross from the left sweeps through the Poland penalty area and somehow finds its way untroubled or untouched to Irving Lozano on the right side of the penalty area near the byline. He attempts to drill it across the face of goal but his delivery is blocked.
35 min: Mexico charge forward with Alexis Vega, who is looking extremely lively, playing the ball wide and left to Gallardo. He continues his run to meet the return pass from the touchline, but Poland goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is first to the ball and clutches it to his breadbasket.
33 min: The match remains extremely scrappy as a contest, with Mexico having squandered the only real chance of note so far. Lewandowski is obviously the most powerful weapon in Poland’s armoury but he can do little or nothing if his teammates can’t get forward and bring him into the game.
29 min: Somewhat harshly, Mexico right-back Jorge Sanchez gets booked after contesting a 50-50 ball with Sebastian Szymanski. There may have been a little shirt-tug there but it was six of one and a half-dozen of the other.
28 min: Mexico win a free-kick wide on the right and Jesus Gallardo makes a darting run towards the far post up the inside left. It’s a move from the training ground but Wojciech Szczesnyanticipates the danger, rushes off his line and gets enough on the ball to prevent Gallardo getting a shot off or from squaring the ball.
26 min: Hector Herrera sends a cross into the Poland penalty area from the byline and Alexis Vega outjumps Matty Cash at the far post on the edge of the six-yard box. He makes decent contact with the ball, which floats across the face of goal and bounces narrowly wide. I was expecting the net to ripple there as I thought it was going in. It’s been the chance of the game so far.
25 min: Mexico throw-in, near the halfway line after Sebastian Szymanski puts the ball out of play. Look, it’s something.
22 min: Interesting. Lewandowski goes down in a tangle of limbs with his marker Hector Moreno on the edge of the Mexico penalty area and appeals for a penalty but none is forthcoming. Replays suggest he didn’t deserve one.
21 min: A quarter of the game gone (not counting the now obligatory 55 minutes of added time) and neither goalkeeper has had to make a save yet. Mexico look far more threatening than the Poles thus far.
17 min: Poland drive forward with Zalewski on the ball after he’d picked Hirving Lozano’s pocket and charged upfield. He plays the ball inside trying to pick out Lewandowski in the middle but his pass is wayward. Relief for Mexico.
15 min: Mexico look extremely comfortable in possession and eager to get forward at every opportunity, while their Europpean opponents seem happy to sit back, invite them on and hope to catch them on the break.
14 min: Grzegorz Krychowiak takes the direct approach, lumping the ball long from midfield in the genral direction of Lewandowski. The slightly isolated Polish striker is being well marshalled, however and Mexico clear their lines with a minimum of fuss.
12 min: Luis Chavez gallops down the inside left for Mexico but is dispossessed by a meaty challenge from Zalewski. Corner for Mexico. The ball is curled into the Poland penalty area and Hector Moreno gets his head to it but can only send it high into the air and over the bar.
9 min: Cesar Montes puts the ball out of play for a Poland throw-in deep in Mexican territory. Moments later, Matty Cash runs the ball out of play for a Mexico goal-kick under pressure from Montes.
6 min: Cesar Montes and Kamil Glik clash heads as they contest a high ball at a corner and there’s a break in play while both of them receive medical attention. They’re both OK.
5 min: Lewandowski races on to a cross0field ball in behind the Mexican defence but is unable to cut inside. He wins his side a corner, the first of the game. Zielinski sends the ball into the Mexico penalty area, Lewandowski gets his head to it and it goes wide off the head of a defender. Another corner.
5 min: Irving Lozano is penalised for a foul on Nicola Zawliewski, who goes to ground holding the back of his head. There seems to be a huge number of Mexican fans in this stadium and they’re making one hell of a din.
2 min: A cross-field pass from Cesar Montes picks out Alexis Vega on the left touchline as Mexico dominant possession in these very early stages. He’s forced backwards.
1 min: Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa gets an early touch, sending a free-kick from deep high, long and into the stand. Throw-in for Poland, which one suspects Matty Cash will take.
1 min: Mexico get the ball rolling with everything well and truly up for grabs in this group following Saudi Arabia’s sensational win over Argentina earlier today.
Not long now: The teams line up in the tunnel, Robert Lewandowski giving hugs and high fives to various starstruck mascots as he makes his way to the front. Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa leads out his side. Out they march on to the pitch to line up either side of Aussie ref Chris Beath and his team of match officials for the national anthems.
This just in: Iran’s footballers could face reprisals if they fail to sing the national anthem in their remaining World Cup group games, after a politician said the country “will never allow anyone to insult our anthem”. The Guardian’s diplomatic editor, Patrick Wintour reports …
Some pre-match listening
Our award-winning podcast Football Weekly has gone nightly for the duration of the World Cup and yesterday, myself, Max Rushden, Nedum Onuoha and John Brewin (featuring cameos from Barney Ronay and Elis James in Doha) discussed England’s great start to the tournament, Kieffer Moore’s stellar performance as Wales left it late to snatch a point from USA and much, much more. If you’re not already a subscriber, where have you been? You can listen here or subscribe for free on all the usual pod platforms.
Matty Cash: For reasons I can never quite put my finger on, it never stops being amusing seeing the Aston Villa right-back’s name in the Poland line-up. Born in Slough, Cash had never set foot in Poland before making his debut for the country his grandfather was forced to leave 82 years ago. A little over a year after representing them for the first time, he’s playing in the Poland colours at the World Cup finals. Strap yourself in for a yarn the player himself describes as “quite a crazy story really, a bit complicated”.
Mexico: Guillermo Ochoa, Jorge Sanchez, Hector Moreno, Cesar Montes, Jesus Gallardo, Edson Alvarez, Hector Herrera, Luis Chavez, Hirving Lozano, Henry Martin, Alexis Vega
Poland: Wojciech Szczesny, Kamil Glik, Jakub Kiwior, Matty Cash, Bartosz Bereszynski, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Piotr Zielinski, Sebastian Szymanski, Nicola Zalewski, Jakub Kaminski, Robert Lewandowski
Gerardo Martino: A recent run of poor(ish) results – three wins and two draws in their past nine – mean Mexico fans have been less than enthused by their team’s efforts going into this World Cup. They were further incensed when their manager Gerardo Martino left Braga midfielder Diego Lainez and Feyenoord striker Santiago Jimenez out of his squad.
“What we have always tried to do is to be in the same tune and with the same objective with the entire country,” said Martino. “But since we have not achieved it, we are making ourselves strong in our atmosphere. This national team is very strong behind closed doors,” he said.
“Actually none of this has changed in recent times. I don’t think we can change this situation, the greatest responsibility for what we generate with a fan is ours, but what has your job been all this time because not always selection has generated bad moments. We are a group that determines this. What we have to do is prepare for the game, try to win it and that will change the opinion that people have somewhat.”
Czeslaw Michniewicz: “If I say that there are no logical reasons for Poland to make it out of the group, you will say that I am a man of little faith,” the Poland manager said in his pre-match press conference. “I think that we can get out of the group. We don’t want to be among the first 16 teams to go home.
“We have experienced players who have played in many tournaments, and there’s a lot of youngsters who are just learning the big tournaments here in Qatar. I think this mix is right for us.”
Asked if he thought Mexico’s favouritism to win this opener is justified, Michniewicz disagreed. “We don’t look at Mexico this way,” he said. “I don’t see such disparities between us, also between us and Saudi Arabia or Argentina. We are all at the World Cup, we feel as important as our opponents in the group. We don’t give them any special rank.”
Mexico: Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa is about to take part in his fifth World Cup. Here is his profile from our brilliant interactive featuring all 831 players taking part in this winter Qatari jamboree.
“Ochoa’s reliability is one of the most controversial topics in Mexico. Some consider him the best goalkeeper to play for El Tri. Others think he is a little bit less than a fraud. The fact is he is aiming for his third World Cup as a starter (fifth overall) and looking forward to a fourth one (and sixth overall) in 2026. “It would be extraordinary to play the World Cup at home”, he said. Ochoa is Gerardo Martino’s first and only choice in Qatar. He was a national hero in 2014 and 2018. His saves have become famous. Now he is ready to put on a new show.”
Poland: “Although Robert Lewandowski spends most days closeted in the team hotel, he is a ubiquitous presence here. Once darkness falls, and it descends early in the Gulf at this time of year, giant images of the Poland captain and record goalscorer illuminate the sides of skyscrapers lining the city’s Corniche.” Louise Taylor reports from Doha.
Early team news: A recurring groin injury has kept Wolves striker Raul Jimenez sidelined since the end of August and it remains to be seen if he will feature for Mexico today. Henry M artin, who plays his club football for América in his native Mexico, is likely to start up front for El Tri while Jimenez could get a run out off the bench.
Poland have a full 26-man squad to choose from but lost Spezia goalkeeper Bartłomiej Drągowski, Lens striker Adam Buksa and Bochum midfielder Jacek Goralski to injury in the build-up to the tournament. Without a World Cup to his name, Robert Lewandowski will almost certainly lead the line for his country. The 34-year-old Barcelona stiriker scored nine goals in qualifying for these finals.
Today’s match officials
Referee: Christopher Beath (Australia)
Assistant referees: Anton Shchetinin and Ashley Beecham
Fourth official: Stéphanie Frappart
Video Assistant Referee: Shaun Evans
Made from almost 1,000 shipping containers (there’s a clue to the exact number in its name), Stadium 974 is the first temporary stadium in World Cup history and plays host to today’s match between Mexico and Poland. The minds of both sets of players and their fans will almost certainly have been well and truly boggled by Saudi Arabia’s almost unthinkable win over Argentina earlier today, putting an end to the South American nation’s 36-match run with a victory few in their right minds could have predicted.
Contesting their eighth consecutive World Cup, Mexico have been knocked out in the Round of 16 on each of the past seven occasions. Poland, by contrast, have not made out of the group stages since 1986, when the World Cup was hosted by the country they face this afternoon. Kick-off is at 4pm (GMT) but stay tuned in the meantime for team news and build-up.