There is little doubt that Mexico will qualify for the 2014 World Cup, but El Tri will look to continue building chemistry and momentum when it hosts Jamaica at Estadio Azteca.
Avoiding a loss would be a massive boost for the Reggae Boyz’ attempt to book their tickets to Brazil. The team has done well as the underdog already in qualifying and has a win against the United States.
But that victory happened in Jamaica, and playing in Azteca will present a much more difficult challenge for the team.
Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming match.
Where: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
When: Wednesday, February 6, 9:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Univision
Key Matchup: Jamaica’s Back Line vs. Javier Hernandez
The Jamaican’s chances at a victory in this game will start and end with their ability to contain Javier Hernandez.
The defenders will have to walk a thin line between assigning extra players to the star striker and ensuring that El Tri’s other talented attackers do not have an unreasonable amount of space in front of goal.
Chicharito can dismantle the Reggae Boyz’ defense as a goalscorer or as a decoy, and it will take a top-class performance from all of Jamaica’s back-line players to keep Mexico from running up the score.
If the defenders don’t deliver, this match will be a blowout.
Biggest Storyline: Jamaica’s Roster Overhaul
After the team’s severely disappointing performance at the Caribbean Cup, Jamaica has made massive changes to its squad before starting the next round of CONCACAF qualifiers.
As MLSsoccer.com’s Jonah Freedman notes, Jamaica failed to get out of the group stage at the tournament and will bring back just four players from that roster.
With players who are not familiar with each other’s tendencies having to gel quickly in one of the most raucous environments in international soccer, this game has the potential to turn into a disaster for the Reggae Boyz.
The Jamaicans have several factors working against them, and it will take a monumental effort to simply avoid embarrassment in this match.
Prediction: Mexico 3, Jamaica 1
El Tri will be fired up to play at Azteca. It will dominate the entire first half and the beginning part of the second half.
Hernandez, Andres Guardado and the other talented Mexican attackers will build a comfortable 3-0 lead before contently sitting back and maintaining possession of the ball.
The Jamaicans will desperately try to save face and grab a late goal, giving the visitors a silver lining in the loss.