Mexico vs New Zealand by Isaiah
Mexico put up a lot of fighting spirit in the first round game to get a 2:2 draw against surely more quality side of Portugal, but with a lot of energy spent, that quality difference wasn't that obvious. Still, Portuguese looked more threatening with the ball to their feet, while the Mexicans somehow stood better on the field and surely had more of the ball possession during the ninety minutes.
Portuguese side had the lead twice, thanks to a goal from Quaresma firstly in 34th minute, but Chicharito responded before the halftime whistle in 42nd minute, while Cedric brought them again back into the lead in 86th, but Moreno replied during the additional time. It must be said that Mexico deserved this point and that they weren't outplayed against a stronger opponent, on contrary - they were very competitive and combative during all ninety minutes.
Mexicans should be playing in quite offensive 4-3-3 formation with Chicharito and Vela on the wings, plus Jimenez as central striker. Their coach Juan Carlos Osorio may opt for some changes in order to bring some fresh players after the draw against Portugal, at least in the second halftime.
New Zealand, on the other side, looked very modest in their first group match as they played against hosts Russians and suffered 2:0 defeat, without actually showing much on the field, especially not in attack. Russians had slow build up game during most of the time and took the lead in 31st minute with an own goal, while their guests opened up a bit more in the repetition and it was easy for the hosts to seal the victory.
Second goal came in 69th minute via Smolov as the players from New Zealand tried with a bit more aggressive approach, however without any really real chance to walk away with something in the end. Overall impression is that they didn't deserve more out of the game, while it will be very interesting to see how they cope with a bit more faster attacks from sides such as Mexico or Portugal. On the other side, it will be also interesting to see whether the side will be able to net a goal in the remaining two matches.
New Zealand is set to play in their usual 3-4-1-2 formation with Wood and Barbarouses most likely as forwards, plus Rojas as central offensive midfielder behind their backs. They are in a must win situation here if the team is to continue with the hopes of ending at first two positions, however more likely is that their players will simply play for the national pride in the remaining two.
Mexicans are favorites to get a victory here and solve their qualifying drama in the last match against the hosting nation of the tournament. If they repeat some of the fighting spirit they had against Portugal, I don't see plenty of chances for New Zealand for a positive outcome here. Two or three goals difference seems like the most probable outcome.