- Russia 2018 will be the Mexico captain's fourth World Cup
- El Tri face Germany, Sweden and Korea Republic in Group F
- Guardado reflects on his varied experiences at the tournament
FIFA.com asked Mexico captain Andres Guardado to reminisce on the three FIFA World Cups™ he has played in and to pick out his abiding memory of each of his campaigns on the global stage.
"I'm proud to have a shot at a fourth World Cup. You dream of playing in one, let alone four! I'm absolutely buzzing about it," said the Real Betis player, casting his mind forward to Russia 2018. "It still feels like my first time and it could well be my last. Most importantly, it's my last chance to be part of a team that goes down in Mexican football history. That's my biggest motivation."
After that brief look ahead to the future, Guardado embarked on his trip down memory lane, taking us along for the ride.
- Germany 2006* Round of 16: Argentina-Mexico (2-1)*
"I only played one match at the tournament, but it was our biggest one. I was only 19 and not many people knew much about me or rated me. My fondest memory is of when the starting XI was named in the dressing room and the coach, Ricardo La Volpe, came over. 'Play as if you were wearing the Atlas shirt underneath this one,' he told me, referring to my club at the time, 'pretend you're back at Atlas and just play like you do for them.'
"But Jared Borgetti, who was one of the squad's senior figures back then, overheard La Volpe and said, 'No, Ricardo, let him take in the occasion. Few players have played in such an important game at his young age. He should be conscious of that and relish it.'
"Remembering that always makes me nostalgic because it really gave me a confidence boost going into the match, which went pretty well for me individually, even though we lost."
- South Africa 2010* Third group-stage match: Mexico-Uruguay (0-1)* "Truth be told, I've got really bad memories of that World Cup. It was a very strange tournament for me. The coach [Javier Aguirre] didn't fully trust me and I didn't feel quite right when I played. My most vivid memory is of that game against Uruguay, when we were battling to top the group. He started me, but then pulled me off at half-time, with no explanation whatsoever, and we ended up losing the match. We still went through, but that World Cup left a very sour taste in my mouth. I didn't enjoy it very much."
- Brazil 2014* Third group-stage match: Croatia-Mexico (1-3)*
"I've got lots of great memories of that World Cup, but if I had to single out one, it'd obviously be my goal against Croatia. Scoring at a World Cup is special and it'll stay with me for the rest of my life."
- On his transformation between his first World Cup and now
"I've changed quite a lot compared to that long-haired youngster, who started out on the left flank. I used to be more of a box-to-box player, who took people on and got on the end of moves. Now, I'm a central midfielder and hold my position more; I bring balance to the team.
"What's still the same, though, is my hunger, my drive to win both individually and as a team. That's what's kept me at the highest level."