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Fierce rivals Mexico and the United States go head-to-head in a key World Cup qualifying clash on Thursday.

The two sides are locked on 21 points after 11 games, four behind unbeaten leaders Canada but ahead of Panama in the intercontinental playoff spot by the same margin.

The USMNT have had Mexico’s number in recent meetings, but the Azteca is arguably the toughest place to visit in Concacaf.

Given the quality of both sides, Mexico and the USA may see the final two games as more realistic chances to seal their progression to Qatar 2022. But that won’t take away from the spice of this fixture.

Here’s everything you need to know about Thursday’s clash.

When is kick-off? Thursday, 24 March, 10pm (EST)
Where is it being played? Estadio Azteca
What TV channel is it on? Paramount+ & CBS Sports Network (US), TUDN (Mexico)
Highlights? US Soccer YouTube channel

Nestor Araujo may miss out of this first qualifier with a hamstring problem.

Nestor Araujo may miss out of this first qualifier with a hamstring problem. / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Nestor Araujo is in the squad but is doubtful with a hamstring injury, while Andres Guardado and Rogelio Funes Mori are both out – the former also with a hamstring problem and the latter with a knee injury.

Mexico predicted XI: Ochoa; J. Araujo, Montes, Moreno, Arteaga; Herrera, Alvarez, Pizarro; Lozano, Jimenez, Corona.

Gio Reyna is making a long-awaited return to action for the USMNT.

Gio Reyna is making a long-awaited return to action for the USMNT. / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Sergiño Dest suffered a hamstring injury just hours after Gregg Berhalter announced his roster and won’t feature. West McKennie is also out long-term with a fractured foot while Matt Turner has an ankle injury.

Giovanni Reyna will return to action though, while Jordan Pefok has been rewarded for his fine form with Young Boys by getting a recall. Brenden Aaronson is a late dropout with a knee injury.

USA predicted XI: Steffen; Yedlin, Zimmerman, M. Robinson, A. Robinson; Adams, Acosta, Musah; Reyna, Ferreira, Pulisic.

This fixture has a long history and is very much one of the fiercest rivalries in international soccer.

After failing to win in four competitive meetings in a row dating back to September 2013, the USA have beaten El Tri in their last three by a 6-2 aggregate scoreline – including in Gold Cup and Concacaf Nations League finals last summer.

Still, Mexico have the better record overall with 38 wins to the USA’s 23, while 14 meetings have ended in a draw.

Any game against Mexico is a big one for the United States, but Berhalter knows qualification won’t all come down to this one match. Perhaps being pragmatic and looking at more realistic points against Panama and Costa Rica will be his approach.

Even so, the USMNT have held superiority over Mexico in recent meetings and the hosts have been anything but convincing in this recent qualifying cycle. A point wouldn’t be a bad result for either side.

Prediction: Mexico 0-0 United States


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