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Jun 16, 2014

Five key issues for Mexico

Early on Saturday morning, pictures of Mexican fans in Fortaleza, Brazil began to emerge online. These photos showed hundreds of El Tri supporters singing and cheering outside of the hotel where the Mexican squad was residing.

Eventually, the squad came down and took part in the festivities with the fans. While some players waved jerseys, others took selfies with the elated and exuberant fans in the background. It looked like a party and perfectly symbolized the new change in attitude that head coach Miguel Herrera has brought in.

The squad has much to celebrate after a win over Cameroon but will need to quickly refocus on their upcoming match against Brazil. This will be one of their biggest tests in the World Cup by far. Brazil are one of the favorites of the tournament and obviously will have a significant home-field advantage.

Mexico have the potential to sneak into first place in Group A if they beat Brazil. While it seems highly unlikely, there is still chance that El Tri can pull it off.

Here are five keys for Mexico to beat Brazil:

Strong presence from Hector Moreno on defense

A simple yet important key for Mexico. With the potential for both Francisco Rodriguez and Rafael Marquez being outrun on defense, Hector Moreno will need to be at his very best in the back-line. Oddly enough, the more talented and younger Moreno has at times looked like the weakest link on defense.

Moreno hasn't exactly been atrocious, but every El Tri fan knows that he is capable of much more. Although Marquez is able to create beautiful passes, Moreno is still Mexico's best defender and needs to play like it.

If not, Oscar, Neymar and friends will have a terrific time on Tuesday.

Strikers taking advantage of opportunities

Whether it be Oribe Peralta, Giovani dos Santos, Javier Hernandez, Raul Jimenez or even Alan Pulido, all of Mexico's strikers need to capitalize on their opportunities. Croatia proved last week that Brazil are not indestructible, especially on defense. Miguel Herrera must recognize this and motivate his starting two strikers to dominate the final third.

Given that Mexico has had defensive woes in the past and the strength of Brazil's attack at the moment, Mexico will need to take advantage of every and any chance given up top.

Notably, only two of Mexico's last eight goals have been scored by a striker.

Mexico are preparing to face off against World Cup heavyweights -- and hosts -- Brazil.

Jose Juan Vazquez

The 5-foot-5 midfielder was near perfect in the game against Cameroon. Jose Juan Vazquez had little trouble with Cameroon's movement in the middle and was the foundation for so many of Mexico's attacks.

Against Brazil, Vazquez will be given the monumental task of taking control of the midfield against Luiz Gustavo, Paulinho and, at times, Neymar. Vazquez, who played third division Mexican soccer a few years ago, is an excellent player but might not have the talent to compete against the likes of Brazil.

Vazquez must be the tenacious player he has been defensively and the catalyst for Mexico going forward.

Offensive threat from wing-backs

Paul Aguilar and Miguel Layun are Mexico's current starting wing-backs. Both players have been fantastic for El Tri but were a bit too stagnant against Cameroon. Each player needs to be more influential against Brazil and be the opportunity-creators that they have been in the past.

Brazil likely will score against Mexico; it's almost a fact. Assuming that is true, El Tri will rely on Layun and Aguilar for crosses and even long-range shots outside of the box.

Miguel Herrera keeping his cool

Miguel Herrera is a very likable and genuine person, but he also wears his heart on his sleeve. Herrera will celebrate like none other when Mexico scores but will also continuously yell at an assistant referee if he is unhappy with a decision.

With the probability for a few things to go wrong on Tuesday, Herrera will need to keep his cool and make smart decisions as a coach. By the way, this isn't about tactics; Herrera has his tactics set and has made smart substitutions in the past. I'm more worried when he begins arguing with the closest referee, like he did in the last game after the disallowed goals.

The last thing Mexico needs is for their head coach to be ejected during their match against Brazil.