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Mexico vs. Panama, 2018 World Cup Qualifying: What to watch for

Soccer: Mexican National Team vs Panama Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Friday saw a perfect end to the “dos a cero” curse. Now the Mexico national team travel to Panama City in their second game of the CONCACAF Hexagonal.

Here is what to watch for in Mexico’s visit to Panama.

What to watch for:

Mexico to go for the win - What previously was thought as a mission impossible is very much doable now. Against all odds, Mexico went into Columbus, Ohio and earned a historic 2-1 victory. Four years ago, Honduras needed 15 points to make the World Cup. If that is taken as the total that Mexico must reach to qualify, then a win against Panama would make it 2/5 victories El Tri need.

Of course, winning their first two games doesn’t sound like an especially impressive task, but then you remember that both games were played outside of Mexico, no less in Columbus and Panama City. When you put it like that, Juan Carlos Osorio has every reason to go for it in Panama.

Guillermo Ochoa time? - It’s always a bit of debate about who should be Mexico’s first-choice goalkeeper. Given that Alfredo Talvera looked shaky against the United States, Juan Carlos Osorio is probably thinking if keeping Alfredo Talavera is wise move or not.

Theoretically, Osorio likes Talavera for his aerial ability between the sticks, which makes it seem rather odd that’s the one aspect the Toluca goalkeeper has looked least confident in. There’s no guarantee that Guillermo Ochoa will get the start on Tuesday, but regularly losing sight of the ball in routine set-pieces is not a good look for Alfredo Talavera.

Panama is no easy task - “Lo bueno del fútbol es que te da revanchas.” So said Rafael Marquez before Mexico’s 2-1 win over the United States. If that’s the case, then Panama is long overdue for something positive. It’s sometimes easy to forget that it was Panama who was on the other end of that decisive night that saw the United States hand Mexico half a ticket to the 2014 World Cup.

Panama are not just long overdue, they also deserve it. Panamanian football has improved by leaps and bounds, and that’s part of the reason why many think they will be fighting, at the very least, for a play-off spot.

Like Mexico, morale is at an all-time high after Panama defeated Honduras in San Pedro Sula last week, their first ever road win in a Hexagonal. Much of the hope surrounding Panama is based around changing their football history. A positive result against Mexico in a World Cup qualifier would be a strong statement in that regard. Juan Carlos Osorio and his players will know not to take this game lightly.