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Nov 13, 2013

Can Mexico break down Kiwis' D?

The pressure will be on Oribe Peralta and El Tri's offense to lead Mexico to a World Cup berth.
The pressure will be on Oribe Peralta and El Tri's offense to lead Mexico to a World Cup berth.

Given the current state of the Mexican Football Federation, Wednesday’s World Cup qualifying match against New Zealand (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) is the most important match for El Tri in the last 24 years. The team is currently managed by former Club America manager Miguel Herrera, who was the fourth coach hired by Mexico in a disastrous six-week span from August to October.

Mexico’s troubles throughout World Cup qualifying have been well-documented. El Tri struggled mightily to score goals against its CONCACAF neighbors, cobbling together just seven in 10 matches (only Jamaica scored fewer), and failing to score in half of the games in the Hexagonal round. This makes scoring goals an absolute priority going into the opening leg of this critical two-game, home-and-away playoff with New Zealand. After friendly matches against Finland and local second-division side Lobos BUAP, it looks as though Herrera is close to settled on the group he believes can go out and get results.

Following the most recent tune-up game against Lobos BUAP, Herrera stated clearly that “the goalkeeper and the strikers are the only doubts” in his lineup. Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jesus Corona and Club America keeper Moises Munoz are Herrera’s options in goal, while America striker Raul Jimenez and Chivas target Aldo de Nigris are fighting to partner with Peralta up front. Outside of those positions, Herrera is likely to field the same team that he assembled against Finland, which will solely feature players from Liga MX. Herrera’s men will play in the 5-3-2 formation that has led America to the top of the Liga MX Apertura standings, and ultimately it will be his team’s adaptation to that style that will dictate the team’s success against New Zealand.

What does Mexico need to do to win the first leg of the World Cup qualifier?

Playing with five defenders on the back line ...