For Mexico, the victory Wednesday, Nov. 13 over New Zealand was an indication of how good this side can be when playing with passion, purpose and finesse.
After a scoreless opening 30 minutes at Azteca Stadium, El Tri unleashed the fireworks just moments before the whistle sounded to end the first half, as Paul Aguilar and Raul Jimenez each found the back of the net eight minutes apart, setting the stage for a blowout win on home soil.
From there, things only got worse for the visitors, as Oribe Peralta tallied twice (in the 48th and 80th minutes), and Rafael Marquez put an exclamation point on the match by making it 5-0 in the 84th.
Though New Zealand would close the gap by one with less than five minutes to play, after seeing the first leg of play, it would take a letdown of epic proportions for El Tri to fall in this World Cup playoff clash.
Now, with the second leg of the playoff on tap for Wednesday, Mexico appears primed to claim one of the coveted last handful of berths for the World Cup Finals next summer.
Heading into the match at Westpac Stadium, here's a look at what the visitors will need to do in order to secure the win on aggregate.
Possess the ball
One of the biggest factors in El Tri's victory at home was the obvious difference in terms of possession, as the Mexican side held the ball for the vast majority of the match.
In total, New Zealand had control for just 27 percent of the 90 minutes, and as such, it generated little to no offense throughout the night.
The gap as far as skill goes has a lot to do with this, and if Mexico does what's expected of them, the team should come close to the 73 percent possession share it enjoyed during the first leg.
In addition, New Zealand will struggle to exceed the paltry three shots attempted during last Wednesday's match, unless Mexico allows the home side to see more of the ball.
While it's unreasonable to expect Miguel Herrera's squad to pile up five goals again during the second leg, the finishing abilities demonstrated by El Tri were evident from the outset of the match.
Even before the pair of Mexican strikes near the end of the first half, Carlos Pena and Francisco Rodriguez each managed quality scoring chances during the opening moments and seemed to put the visitors on their heels immediately.
From there, it was only a matter of time before Mexico's attack (which was without Javier Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos) broke through against a clearly less-talented opponent.
The finesse of the Mexican scorers was a big factor in the victory, as the team racked up five goals on just 10 shots on target (with another 11 missing the goal), so if that trend continues, this match will be over in a hurry.
Against a desperate opponent, Herrera's squad has to remain calm, because New Zealand will be looking to compensate for the gap in talent by playing a physical brand of football once again.
The away side more than doubled El Tri in fouls during the first match and received three yellow card bookings for its troubles, which only created more opportunities for Mexico to retain possession and create scoring opportunities.
Now, with New Zealand guaranteed to be even more frantic with elimination on the line, the Mexicans just need to keep composure, because having a man sent off or relinquishing a penalty would surely shift momentum, especially early in the match.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!