As World Cup Qualifying rolls along, Mexico and El Salvador will try to do their best to send a clear message to the rest of the world on Tuesday night when they meet in Torreon, Mexico.
The Mexican squad has been cruising through Group B thus far, with 15 points and a perfect 5-0 record in qualifying. In addition to the impressive record, they have outscored their opponents 13-2 already.
El Salvador, meanwhile, is just fighting for dear life. The squad has posted a 1-2-2 record through five matches and an uninspiring eight goals scored. The nine goals allowed is the second-worst mark in Group B, ahead of only Guyana.
With both squads heading in opposite directions, here are the things we will be looking for on Tuesday night.
Force El Salvador to Run Up and Down the Field; Keep Pressuring and Attack
These two squads did meet four months ago, with Mexico pulling out a victory thanks to a goal from Hector Moreno in the 82nd minute.
Things can change over the course of time, and they have, as Mexico looks like an even more potent squad top to bottom now than it did in that first match.
One of the biggest differences is the team's strength on defense. They haven't allowed a goal since their victory against El Salvador, outscoring the opposition 8-0.
As long as Mexico is able to keep the pressure on El Salvador, forcing them to play at the pace set by the Mexican side right out of the gate.
El Salvador doesn't have the athletes Mexico does, so as long as Mexico doesn't try to do anything to fancy, this should be another decisive victory.
Find a Lead Early and Get Mexico Back on Its Heels; Goaltending Must Step Up
Since Mexico has proven so adept at playing with a lead in these qualifying matches, El Salvador's best chance to pull off the upset is to stun them early with a goal.
It's like the heavyweight fighter who knocks everyone out in the first round—if you are able to land a big punch to knock him down, he is going to alter his game plan. El Salvador has to be the scrappy upstart with no fear.
This squad did have a chance to steal a tie in the first match, but the late goal from Moreno sealed its fate.
Another factor that will determine the outcome is goaltending. El Salvador has struggled on defense and at the net, allowing nine goals in five matches. It needs Dagoberto Portillo to have the game of his life to hang around long enough to have a chance to win.
It is a tall task for El Salvador, but if it can manage to strike quickly and not give up garbage goals, it should find a victory in this match.
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