Mexico and New Zealand are set to meet in Sochi’s Fisht Stadium on Wednesday, and both teams will be equally under pressure to win this game
The Mexicans will consider a win essential to fuel their hopes of reaching the semi-finals, while New Zealand desperately need to register three points or else they will kill their chances of moving forward in the tournament.
El Tri come into this game after a 2-2 draw against Portugal and they will be keen on building a strong attacking to a performance to triumph against a relatively less formidable New Zealand side. Despite the match ending in a draw, Mexico showed potential and it does seem like they can rake in an easy victory to get ahead in Group A.
The Kiwis, on the other hand, endured an embarrassing 2-0 loss in their opening match against Russia where it was evident that almost nothing went according to what they had hoped for. They will be eager to make things right while playing Mexico, but that is likely to be an uphill task for them.
However, they did narrowly lose 2-1 against Mexico back in October 2016, and if they can muster a similar performance, the Mexicans will have their work cut out for them.
Team News and Tactics
Mexico have received just one yellow card and that was awarded to Andres Guardado in the last game, but other than that, their coach Osorio will have no fresh injury concerns. He is likely to rotate the team quite a bit as he usually does and especially since New Zealand does seem like the weaker team on paper.
Marco Fabian will be expecting to start after enjoying a brilliant season for the Eintracht Frankfurt man. Osorio’s rotation policy might rob worthy players of precious playing time, but there is no questioning Fabian’s talent and that talent might just give them an extra edge to get past New Zealand in style.
Mexico captain Rafa Marquez – who is currently 38-years-old – is expected to start against New Zealand and, if that happens, he will become the second-oldest player in Confederations Cup history.
The biggest mistake Mexico made against Portugal was their unusually sloppy defending which allowed the Portugal front line to easily capitalize upon. Osorio will have to tighten the defence and ensure that the players remain vigilant in the back even if they get to score some early goals since getting complacent will not help in any form.
Having said that, Mexico put up a brilliant display in the midfield area and continuing the same against New Zealand will help them in creating more chances to score against a team like New Zealand.
Predicted line-up (4-3-3): Ochoa, Salcedo, Diego Reyes, Moreno, Layun, Marquez, Herrera, J. Dos Santos, Aquino, Fabian, Peralta
New Zealand played a clean match on Saturday against Russia, picking up no bookings or suspensions along the way and have no injury concerns either.
Since the center of the field will surely going to be compact, the width will be where they look to play. Kip Colvey will have to be at his defensive best to help keep the Kiwis’ chances of a win alive. A win against Mexico will finally break their Confederations Cup jinx.
Although this is their fourth appearance at this event, their quest for a win continues since they have now lost nine of their ten matches in the tournament alongside a draw, having scored just twice during the entire period.
Coach Anthony Hudson is expected to make some changes in order to provide some rest for the fatigued players and that will give his side a better chance of holding possession longer. He will especially have to be wary of Javier Hernandez since the former Manchester United player did score against Portugal and is in his usual fiery form.
The Kiwis’ defence will have to be strong enough to restrict Hernandez and the midfield should work towards giving star striker Chris Wood chances to capitalize upon.
Predicted lineup (5-3-2): Marinovic, Colvey, Boxall, Durante, Smith, Wynne, Tuiloma, Thomas, Rojas, Smeltz, Wood
The teams had previously met on six occasions and Mexico won all five of them.
The only time when New Zealand won against Mexico was back in 1980.
None of their fixtures so far have ended in a draw.
Mexico 2 – 0 New Zealand
The Mexicans are expected to carry on from where they left off in the opener against Portugal. If they repeat a similar performance, they can easily dominate the Kiwis and create several chances to score.
Mexico are clearly the big time favorites here as they have dominated the series with New Zealand, including a pair of qualifying wins in both the home and away legs four years ago. The match against Portugal will also boost their confidence especially after the exhilaration of scoring the last goal which sealed a draw.
Mexico are expected to take a step toward the semi-finals with a comfortable win over New Zealand on Wednesday.