El Tri are unbeaten in the fifth round of North American qualifying and should they win in the Mexican capital and Honduras fail to beat Trinidad & Tobago, they will have secured their spot in Russia.
Even if Honduras win, though, a Mexico victory would leave them needing to overturn a wide gulf in goal difference in order to reel Juan Carlos Osorio's team in.
|Game||Mexico vs Panama|
|Date||Friday, September 1|
|Time||21:30 ET / 20:30 local|
TV CHANNEL & LIVE STREAM
In the US, the match will be available to watch live on television in English on FS2 and in Spanish on Univision. It can also be streamed in English on Fox Sports Go and in Spanish on Univision Now.
|US TV channel||Online stream|
|FS2 / Univision||Fox Sports Go / Univision Now|
In the UK, the match will not be available to watch live on television or by stream.
SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Ochoa, J. J. Corona, Cota|
|Defenders||Moreno, Reyes, Ayala, Araujo, Lopez, Alvarez, Pereira, Montes|
|Midfielders||Guardado, Herrera, Aquino, J. Dos Santos, Duenas, Pineda, Gallardo, Damm|
|Forwards||G. Dos Santos, Chicharito, Vela, Jimenez, J. M. Corona, Lozano|
Mexico's starting lineup is usually difficult to predict, with Hirving Lozano, Giovani dos Santos, Carlos Vela and Jesus Manuel Corona all battling it out for what will likely be two attacking-midfield roles.
A lack of natural full-backs means midfielders Jesus Duenas and Jesus Gallardo could be forced to fill in.
Potential starting XI: Ochoa; Duenas, Moreno, Reyes, Gallardo; Herrera, J. Dos Santos, Guardado; Lozano, Chicharito, J. M. Corona.
|Defenders||Torres, Baloy, Machado, Davis, Chen, Ovalle, Murillo, Escobar|
|Midfielders||Gomez, Cooper, Quintero, Godoy, Buitrago, Barcenas, Gonzalez|
|Forwards||Perez, Tejada, Torres, Arroyo, Nurse|
Panama have a number of experienced options to choose from up front as well as the younger Abdiel Arroyo.
Los Canaleros tend to line up with a back four and a midfield anchored by 136-cap Gabriel Gomez and San Jose Earthquakes ball-winner Anibal Godoy.
Potential starting XI: Calderon; Murillo, Escobar, Chen, Davis; Gomez; Cooper, Godoy, Barcenas, Quintero; Torres.
BETTING & MATCH ODDS
Mexico are 2/7 favourites to win, according to dabblebet, with Panama priced at 9/1 and the draw available at 15/4.
World Cup qualification has provided some much-needed respite through a rocky couple of years in charge for Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio.
The coach has dealt with no shortage of criticism as a result of the 7-0 loss at the Copa America Centenario to Chile, his suspension for aggressive behaviour towards officials during the Confederations Cup and his team's underwhelming performance at the Gold Cup in July.
Osorio's six-match ban prevented him from appearing on the touchline at that tournament and he will watch from afar for the final time at Estadio Azteca on Friday night when his team takes on Panama.
Mexico's under-strength squad did not make their defeat to Jamaica at the semi-final stage of the Gold Cup any less disappointing, and the pressure will be on to win this match in order to turn the attention back to the future.
Taking four points off the United States - three of which came at the end of Jurgen Klinsmann's beleagured reign - have enabled El Tri to take control of the final round of North American qualifying with four wins, two draws and no losses.
Doing the business here will almost certainly complete the job and boost Osorio's chances of keeping his job for the tournament next year.