North American champions Mexico will look to make strides towards the Confederations Cup semi-finals when they take on Far East opponents New Zealand. Mexico made a bright start to the competition with Euro 2016 holders Portugal as a late Hector Moreno goal assured them a point (2-2). On the other hand, the All Whites were seemingly lost in their Confederations Cup opener as they struggled to keep out a Russian side, boosted by quality young talents.
The absence of Winston Reid is a huge blow for the country down under, and they succumbed to a respectable 2-0 defeat at the hands of the hosts. New Zealand have never won a game in the Confederations Cup, and they will come with a renewed vigour to get a positive result tonight.
Players to watch for:
Javier Hernandez (Mexico): Chicharito, as he is known to his teammates, is one of the bright sparks in a Mexican setup which has valuable European experience in their ranks. Mexico have 13 players, who ply their trade in the European leagues, but Chicharito remains the most celebrated of them of all after having featured for the likes of Manchester United and Real Madrid in a successful career.
The Bayer Leverkusen striker bagged the opener in the 2-2 draw against Portugal in the first game, and he could unleash himself against the All Whites, who will play a defensive-minded game as usual. Manager Juan Carlos is likely to rotate his team against the lowest placed opponent in the Cup, but Hernandez is a sure starter.
Chris Wood (Newcastle United): In the absence of Reid, Wood has been offered the opportunity to lead the nation. The 25-year-old was impressive for Leeds United last season as he topped the goalscoring charts with 27, but a continental tournament remains a whole new proposition.
Just as their noisy neighbours Australia found out, there is never an easy game on the big stage with the Socceroos struggling to hold off a second-string German squad earlier in the week. Wood has managed to use his physical presence to good avail for his club, and he may have to push up a stretch in order to end the All Whites’ wait for a first Confederations Cup victory.
Mexico should be all over New Zealand from the start, 3-0 to the CONCACAF Cup champions.
Image – Getty