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Mexico vs. New Zealand: Date, Time, TV Info and Preview

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 30:  Oribe Peralta #19 of Mexico shoots the ball against Denmark during an international friendly match at University of Phoenix Stadium on January 30, 2013 in Glendale, Arizona.  Mexico and Denmark ended in a 1-1 draw.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistNovember 13, 2013

Shockingly, Mexico—which coming into the final round of CONCACAF qualifying was considered the region's most talented team—has to fight for its World Cup life in a play-in playoff series against New Zealand.

The playoff begins in the famous Azteca Stadium, where El Tri has traditionally been extremely hard to beat. That wasn't the case in the hexagonal portion of qualifying, however, as Mexico took just six points from five home games and scored just three goals at Azteca. 

That will certainly give the underdogs hope, as New Zealand is a long shot to beat Mexico. Let's break down the first leg of this matchup, with a World Cup spot hanging in the balance. 

 

When: Wednesday, November 13, at 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Azteca Stadium, Mexico City, Mexico

Watch: ESPN, WatchESPN

 

Key Storylines

FORTALEZA, BRAZIL - JUNE 19:  Giovani dos Santos of Mexico in action during the FIFA Confederations Cup Brazil 2013 Group A match between Brazil and Mexico at Castelao on June 19, 2013 in Fortaleza, Brazil.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

As if Mexico's qualifying campaign wasn't dysfunctional enough, the team will be without one of its top stars, Giovani dos Santos, for both fixtures as the forward suffered an injury to his right hamstring last week and is out for two weeks, according to ESPN

Not a good start for El Tri.

New coach Miguel Herrera—Mexico's fourth coach in six weeks when he was hired—has also left all European-based players off the squad, meaning stars such as Javier Hernandez of Manchester United and Javier Aquino of Villarreal are sitting the first leg out. 

Herrera cited a taxing travel schedule—and a desire to utilize players accustomed to Mexico City's high altitude—for his reasoning behind leaving the European stars off the roster. If the move backfires, however, and Mexico fails to win its home leg, El Tri could potentially end up with their fifth new coach in as many months rather shortly.

Along with trying to defeat Mexico in a tough environment, New Zealand will have to overcome the loss of West Ham defender Winston Reid, who won't be available for this contest with an ankle injury. For a team already very unlikely to win in Mexico City, the task just became a lot taller.

 

Predictions

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 30:  Marcos Fabian #10 (R) of Mexico celebrates with Aldo De Nigris #9 and Javier Aquino #11 afer Fabian scored against Denmark on a penalty kick during the second half of an international friendly match at University of Phoenix Sta

El Tri may have only won two qualifying games at Azteca Stadium in the hexagonal, but they are nearly impossible to beat at their legendary fortress. Even without El Chicharito, they are justifiably the heavy favorites. 

New Zealand will put up a fight, but it would be shocking if it managed to even earn a draw against a desperate Mexico side. 

El Tri will win this contest 2-0.

 

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