Mexico: 5 Priorities for the Playoff Against New Zealand

Karla Villegas GamaFeatured ColumnistOctober 22, 2013

Mexico: 5 Priorities for the Playoff Against New Zealand

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    The two-legged playoff between Mexico and New Zealand will take place in November. El Tri are going through a football crisis that newly appointed coach Miguel Herrera needs to address quickly.

    It will not be easy. This year, Mexico had three coaches before Herrera come to the scene: Jose Manuel de la Torre, Fernando Tena and Victor Manuel Vucetich. All of them failed in their attempt to qualify the team directly.

    Herrera capped 10 players from Mexican club America to face Finland in a friendly game. He is confident that most of them will be on the final list and will help Mexico get to Brazil 2014.

    Here are five things Herrera has to assess if he wants to succeed in this quest.

Creativity

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    Mexico was a very predictable team throughout the Hexagonal. None of the players gave El Tri diversity, which reflected in their performances.

    Herrera capped Lucas Lobos, a naturalized footballer that has been playing for Mexican club Tigres.

    Lobos is good at disrupting a defense's balance. He usually floats behind the striker, which gives him a lot of freedom.

    He can finish a play or assist his teammates, plus he has superb headers and long-distance shots.

Defense

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    Mexico’s weakest line has been the defense. De la Torre, Tena and Vucetich played a 4-4-2 formation.

    Herrera does it differently. He usually plays a 5-3-2 formation, which gives the centre-backs a lot of responsibility and the right-back and the left-back options to help in the attack.

    Rafael Marquez, Juan Carlos Valenzuela and Francisco Rodriguez will guard the box.

    Marquez and Rodriguez are clearly more experienced than Valenzuela, however, he has been doing a good job in the Liga MX.

    Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar will give the team more options in the attack.

Depth

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    Carlos Pena is one of the few players on the list that does not play for America. The Leon midfielder is going through a great moment with his club and he showed it in the Hexagonal, against Panama and Costa Rica.

    Pena is the kind of player that can keep the ball but that can also feed it to his teammates or run with it through the center of the pitch, unbalancing the rival’s defense.

    He was one of the few players that gave El Tri depth in the previous games and he will continue to do so.

Finishing

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    Mexico need to score. Against Costa Rica, the team had 67 percent of ball possession but still lost 2-1.

    It is no use to have the ball if the strikers or attacking midfielders cannot finish a play.

    Raul Jimenez has proven to be one of the most lethal Mexican attackers. He scored against Panama and is a key player with America.

    Oribe Peralta is another player that fights for every ball and takes advantage of his goal-scoring knack.

Strategy

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    Anyone that knows what Mexico was doing in the Hexagonal (all of it) please let us know.

    El Tri did not have a strategy and the players were desperate to score. It was as if the ball was on fire. As soon as they got it, they passed it without even having a plan.

    It is time that Herrera brings some clarity and gives the players a serious talk about what they must to do and what is expected from them.

    If he manages to do so, the squad will be both more confident and comfortable on the pitch.