A critical matchup in Group A highlights Tuesday’s action in the 2014 World Cup. The host nation Brazil will tangle with Mexico in a key fixture that could determine who finishes in first place in the group.
Both sides won their opening fixtures in the tournament. Brazil overcame a shaky start to defeat Croatia 3-1. Mexico overcame controversial calls against them to squeak out a 1-0 victory over Cameroon.
Brazil lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation but could easily switch to a 4-3-3 if necessary. No matter the formation, the key player to watch will be Neymar. The Barcelona winger scored twice in Brazil’s victory over Croatia and was a force throughout the match. Fred would be the lone striker in a 4-2-3-1, but will need to do more, than just dive in the penalty area.
Oscar was simply brilliant in Brazil’s opening match and will need to keep his pace up against Mexico. The Chelsea midfielder will give the Mexican defenders fits with his running and playmaking abilities. His goal sealed Croatia’s fate which brings an added dimension to his game.
There are questions surrounding the fitness of Hulk. The Zenit St. Petersburg winger left training with a leg injury and his status is unknown. If Hulk isn’t fit, Bernard or Ramires are possible replacements.
Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho are the holding midfielders if Brazil sticks to the 4-2-3-1. Both had their struggles against Croatia and will need to be better against an attacking Mexican side.
The back four was supposed to be the strength of the Brazil team, but they had difficulties against Croatia. Left back Marcelo scored an own goal in the 11th minute and had issues with crosses off the flank. The Real Madrid defender is usually stern at the back and should be more poised against Mexico.
Right back Dani Alves also had problems with crosses off the wing. The Barcelona wing-back did not have a strong game against Croatia, and will need to be better against Mexico.
Julio Cesar should get the starts between the sticks. The Toronto FC keeper had communication issues with his defenders but the last few days of training should clarify that issue.
Mexico lined up in a 5-3-2 formation against Cameroon, and found success against the African side. Expect El Tricolor to stick with the 5 defenders against an aggressive Brazil team.
Javier Hernandez didn’t start against Cameroon, but the Manchester United striker should make the team sheet against Brazil. Chicharito is Mexico’s most potent weapon and they could use all the goals they can get.
Giovani dos Santos will line up just behind Hernandez in a talismanic role. The Villarreal forward is a dynamic, creative playmaker that can cause havoc in the penalty area.
Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado and Jose Juan Vazquez should line up as the midfielders. However, Herrera and Guardado were both substituted late in the second half as they started to wilt under the heat. If they can’t stand up to Brazil’s attack, Mexico will be in huge trouble.
The back five for Mexico had a strong game against Cameroon, but will have a much stiffer test against Brazil. Rafael Marquez is the anchor of the defence. The veteran centre back is playing in his fourth World Cup, so the stage won’t overwhelm him. Hector Moreno will have to be careful as he picked up a yellow card against Cameroon. If Moreno is booked against Brazil, he will miss Mexico’s last match in the Group Stage against Croatia. Francisco Rodriguez should be the other centre back. Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar will need to be careful as they love to roam forward as wing backs. If they get caught, Brazil will find joy along the flanks, in particular Neymar. Layun and Aguilar tend to be undisciplined in attack which could pose major problems for Mexico.
Guillermo Ochoa made some timely saves against Cameroon, and he will need to be sharp against a swarming Brazilian attack.
Brazil did not have a strong game against Croatia, but still managed to pick up the three points. Opening game nerves played a major role in Brazil’s unsatisfying performance. Expect a much better effort from A Selecao. There isn’t much love between the two sides, as they have played some bitterly fought contests in recent times. This includes Mexico’s stunning 2-1 victory over Brazil in the gold medal game at the 2012 Olympics. Mexico were somewhat unlucky that they didn’t win by a wider margin against Cameroon, but will need more than luck to escape Brazil. Estadio Castelao in Fortaleza will be a cauldron as the samba drums will drive a rhythm that could unsettle the Mexican team. Expect Brazil at their best. Brazil wins 4-1, and assures themselves top spot in Group A.
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