Mexico will play Iraq at Azteca Stadium Wednesday in its final Group B first-round match, and city police are hoping their latest precautionary measures will keep the celebrations in line after the home team's expected victory.
After Mexico's 2-1 victory over Belgium a week ago, 200 people were injured and 400 arrested, mostly for disturbing the peace and public nudity, in night-long celebrations centering on major arteries and monuments. Police estimated that 200,000 participated in the celebrations.
Then, before Mexico's match against Paraguay Saturday, city officials announced the designation of certain zones for public festivities and cordoned off areas in which statues and other monuments had been damaged.
There were few problems after the game, but that may have been the result of Paraguay's late goal that tied the match, 1-1, as much as the security steps taken by the police.
Wednesday, the city again plans to have 2,000 policemen stationed along the Paseo de la Reforma, the principal commercial avenue, and to restrict the areas in which demonstrations will be allowed.
As it did before the Paraguay match, the city ran newspaper advertisements asking fans to avoid the "reprehensible acts" of a week ago.
"We will not tolerate acts of violence," said Alicia Nunez, a spokesperson for the Mexico City police. "Most people simply want to celebrate, to take the opportunity to have pride and happiness over the Mexican team. Others come to destroy the spirit, and we will not allow that."
Suddenly, Denmark has become the team of choice at this 13th World Cup, with impressive victories over Scotland and Uruguay in Group E. The group has been dubbed the "Group of Death" because of the strength of its four teams.
In a World Cup with no clear favorite and marked by rough tackling, Denmark has become popular with fans and experts because of its stylish passing and clean play. Preben Elkjaer (four goals) and Michael Laudrup, both of whom excelled in the Italian League this past season, have shown outstanding offensive skills.
Denmark, which has clinched a spot in the round of 16 in its first Cup appearance, has one preliminary-phase match left -- against West Germany Friday in Queretaro. "After seeing Denmark play, I can only tell the Germans to be careful," said former French coach Michel Hidalgo, here as a sportscaster. "I am astonished by the style of Danish players such as Laudrup and Elkjaer."
Denmark's 6-1 victory over Uruguay Sunday was the first time Uruguay has given up more than four goals in eight Cup appearances.
Even though exact attendance figures are hard to come by, it is easy enough to see that many World Cup matches are being played in half-empty stadiums. With the exception of games in Mexico City and Brazil's appearances in Guadalajara, attendance has been disappointing. At Irapuato, Nezahualcoyotl and Monterrey, crowds of less than 25,000 have been the norm.
Ticket prices may be the major factor. The cheapest tickets cost about $4, and many Mexicans earn only $4 a day. And most of the cheaper seats are sold out early, leaving $20, $30 and $50 tickets.
World Cup organizers and stadium officials often release several attendance figures for one match (stadium capacity also varies from hour to hour). It's similar to the "guess-the-correct-attendance" game fans play at many U.S. baseball stadiums, except that here any of the choices may be right.
Some Sunday matches begin at noon, so the Church of the Child Jesus in Coyoacan, in Mexico City's southern end, has rescheduled Sunday mass from noon to 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. "This way, all of us will pay attention during mass," said the Rev. Marco Antonio Salvatore.