New Zealand vs. Mexico
Wednesday, November 20, 2013, 1 am ET
Westpac Stadium, Wellington, New Zealand
Watch on ESPN, UniMas, Univision Deportes
On Wednesday, Mexico will look to finish the job they started in style a week ago, as they visit New Zealand's capital city carrying a 5-1 aggregate lead after thrashing the Oceania champs at Estadio Azteca.
The task for manager Miguel Herrera's squad looks quite straightforward, with the All Whites looking uninspired and thoroughly second-best in Mexico City. While it would take a comeback of unbelievable proportions to trouble El Tri, Herrera has set his sights higher than merely riding their lead, as he promised another victory for a suddenly resurgent Mexico.
Last week's romp ran Mexico's all-time record against the Kiwis to 3-1. El Tri beat the All Whites in Stateside friendlies in 2010 and 2011, but lost 4-0 on their only trip to New Zealand, a friendly back in 1980.
Herrera has oozed confidence since taking over from Víctor Manuel Vucetich earlier this year and it seems to have bolstered his squad after their miserable campaign in the CONCACAF Hexagonal round.
His unique 5-3-2 formation, staffed heavily with trusted faces from his Club América side, ran rampant in the first leg and even a trans-Pacific voyage to a strange and distant land looks unlikely to knock them off their stride too badly.
Provided his team don't suffer a truly nightmarish first half in Wellington, a four-goal aggregate lead provides him the luxury of doing a bit of player evaluation and perhaps bringing substitutes off the bench to try some new combinations on Wednesday.
NEW ZEALAND OUTLOOK
No one down under is waving an All White flag just yet. But it's mostly a question of pride and respect for the Kiwis at this point, as they seek to show they can put up more resistance this time out and give their home fans something to cheer about at the end of the World Cup cycle.
Coach Ricki Herbert – who is widely expected to depart his post after this week's match – does have two aces left in the hole. Marco Rojas and Shane Smeltz, two of his top attackers, weren't quite fit enough to make the starting lineup in Mexico and are expected to play a part in the second leg.
Goalkeepers (3): José de Jesús Corona (Cruz Azul), Alfredo Talavera (Toluca), Moisés Muñoz (Club América)
Defenders (9): Rafa Márquez (León), Francisco "Maza" Rodríguez (Club América), Juan Carlos Valenzuela (Club América), Paul Aguilar (Club América), Miguel Layún (Club América), Edwin Hernández (León), Adrián Aldrete (Club América), Miguel Herrera (Pachuca), Hiram Mier (Monterrey)
Midfielders (8): Rodrigo Salinas (Morelia), Juan Carlos Medina (Club América), Antonio "Sinha" Naelson (Toluca), Carlos Peña (León), Luis Ángel Mendoza (Club América), Luis Montes (León), Jesús Molina (Club América), Alonso Escoboza (Santos Laguna)
Forwards (3): Oribe Peralta (Santos Laguna), Raúl Jiménez (Club América), Aldo de Nigris (Guadalajara)
Goalkeepers (3): Glen Moss (Wellington Phoenix), Jacob Spoonley (Wellington Phoenix), Tamati Williams (Auckland City FC/New Zealand)
Defenders (7): Andrew Durante (Wellington Phoenix), Tony Lochhead (unattached), Storm Roux (Central Coast Mariners/Australia), Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix), Tommy Smith (Ipswich Town/England), Bill Tuiloma (Olympique Marseille/France), Ivan Vicelich (Auckland City FC/New Zealand)
Midfielders (6): Leo Bertos (Wellington Phoenix), Aaron Clapham (Canterbury United/New Zealand), Jeremy Christie (unattached), Craig Henderson (Mjallby AIF/Sweden), Chris James (Kuopion Palloseura/Finland), Michael McGlinchey (Central Coast Mariners/Australia)
Forwards (6): Kosta Barbarouses (Melbourne Victory/Australia), Jeremy Brockie (Wellington Phoenix), Rory Fallon (St. Johnstone/Scotland), Marco Rojas (Vfb Stuttgart/Germany), Shane Smeltz (Perth Glory/Australia), Chris Wood (Leicester City/England)