These South American teams will clash for a place in the World Cup quarter-final, at the Soccer City Stadium in Jo'burg on Sunday.
Coincidentally, Argentina and Mexico also played each other in a pre-quarter-final game in 2006. Argentina prevailed 2-1, on that occasion, in a match that went into extra time, after a 1-1 stalemate at the end of 90 minutes.
Most big teams have come to grief at some time or other, in this World Cup. Argentina have been an exception. Beginning with a tough 1-0 win over Nigeria, they went on to demolish South Korea, 4-1, with a hattrick by their striker, Higuain. Their last group match against Greece ended 2-0, giving coach Maradona's team a clean slate in group B.
In Higuain, Diego Milito, Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, Argentina have an embarrassment of riches in their arsenal, a clue to Maradona's penchant for an all-out attacking game plan. How their defense will stand up to a stronger attack than Argentina have faced in their group matches is a question uppermost in everyone's mind. There is also no evidence as to whether Maradona has a plan B. Such evidence was equally absent in the qualification matches when Argentina struggled against most teams including Peru.
Mexico started their World Cup with a match against under-rated hosts South Africa. They were lucky to draw the match 1-1 against an inspired host team that enjoyed raucous crowd support. Mexico came into their own when they shocked France, 2-0, in their next group match. With 4 points in the bank, Mexico qualified for the round of 16, despite going down 1-0, in their last match against Uruguay.
Carlos Vela and Giovani Dos Santos have lived up to their coach Javier Aguierre's expectations, while Cuauhtémoc Blanco adds the experience quotient to a team that has shown flexibility and fluidity in equal measure on the field.
Maradona has ordained Messi as his successor, as arguably the best player in the world. Messi has had a phenomenal impact in this World Cup already, although he has not scored a goal off his own boot yet. The Mexican defenders must wonder how they can deal with this unstoppable player. Higuain owes his hattrick against South Korea in large part to Messi's wizardy. Argentina'sfuture tenancy at this World Cup is inextricably linked with Messi's performance.
Mexico's Giovani Dos Santos has grown in stature in South Africa. His team owe their shock win over France to Dos Santos. Either of Argentina's defenders, Gabriel heinze or Jonas Gutierez is going to be older and wiser after his encounter with this young player, depending on whether Mexico coach Aguirre uses him on the left wing or the right.
For Argentina, Clemente Rodriguez may find himself in the starting eleven following his showing against Greece. Mascherano and Veron will offer midfield protection to the back four. Angel Di Maria is likely to get a favorite flanking position. Higuain can expect attacking support from Tevez and Messi.
An impressive quality of the Mexico squad at this World Cup has been the ability to soak up pressure in defense, and the ability to change gear when an attack opportunity presents itself.
Rafael Marquez will be in midfield with the back in his rear. Juarez and Torrado will feed passes to the flanks. Vela, who missed the last match owed to a niggling injury, is likely to replace Blanco in the spearhead to give defender Walter Samuel a run for his aging money.
Argentina's booming cannons in front should help them prevail in a match that promises to be open, hard enough and exciting.