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Mexico have a reputation to live up to these days. Ricardo Lavolpe's side were among the eight seeded teams in the Final Draw, they qualified comfortably and they boast the world's top scorer in FIFA World Cupô qualifying in Jared Borgetti.

El Tricolor are unlikely to have things their own way, however, not least against a Portugal team who boast their own goal machine in Pauleta, Europe's top marksman, and plenty of attacking flair. With the experience of several Bundesliga-based internationals, meanwhile, Iran could push for a first place in the knock-out rounds, while it will be fascinating to see how Angola fare on their debut finals appearance.

  Standings and Results
Group D MP W D L GF GA Pts
POR 3 3 0 0 5 1 9
MEX 3 1 1 1 4 3 4
ANG 3 0 2 1 1 2 2
IRN 3 0 1 2 2 6 1

11 Jun MEX : IRN 3:1
11 Jun ANG : POR 0:1
16 Jun MEX : ANG 0:0
17 Jun POR : IRN 2:0
21 Jun POR : MEX  
21 Jun IRN : ANG  


Date in your diary: Gelsenkirchen, 21 June, Portugal v Mexico
These teams will be most observers' favourites to fill the top two places in the group and this match could decide who comes out on top. It will also offer a chance to compare to respective merits of Pauleta and Borgetti.

David v Goliath: Cologne, 8 June, Angola v Portugal
A Hollywood scriptwriter could not have dreamt up a better scenario for Angola's first ever finals match. The African team will face Portugal, their former colonial rulers and a country where many of their footballers are based, among them the Benfica striker Mantorras.

History repeats itself: Angola v Portugal
Angola will be hoping history does not repeat itself. Their two previous meetings on Portuguese soil brought 5-1 and 6-0 defeats.


With 12 previous appearances, Mexico are far and away this section's most experienced FIFA World Cup campaigners and will travel to Germany hoping to better their record in the last three tournaments which they exited in the second round. Their performance at the FIFA Confederations Cup last June augurs well, certainly: a Borgetti goal beat Brazil and only a penalty shoot-out defeat by Argentina denied them a place in the final.

A place in the last 16 is also the minimum target for Portugal, who have actually not been beyond the group stage of a FIFA World Cup since reaching the last four in 1966. One of the strongest European sides in qualifying and UEFA EURO 2004 runners-up two summers ago, the Portuguese are aiming to make up for previous disappointments on the world stage and in the Brazilian Luiz Felipe Scolari they have a coach well acquainted with winning FIFA World Cup matches.

The tournament is expected to mark Luis Figo's international football swansong but will also provide a platform for their latest wing wizard, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Portugal will be formidable first opponents for Angola on what will be an emotional occasion in Cologne. Given the countries' close association, the Angolans are unlikely to surprise Portugal but, by the same token, the familiarity could work in their favour as with Senegal and France in 2002. Angola coach Luis Oliveira Goncalves has the trust of his players and their team spirit is strong.

Like Angola, Iran will start out as underdogs but on their third finals appearance, they should benefit from the presence in German club football of several of their key players, including Hamburg playmaker Mehdi Mahdavikia. They beat the United States at France 98 and will probably have to record another famous win if they are to go into their final match against Angola with hope of progressing.

Did you know?
Mexico coach Ricardo Lavolpe was a reserve goalkeeper in Argentina's FIFA World Cup-winning squad in 1978.