The World Cup has met everyone’s expectations and more in terms of entertaining and exciting games and after the first round of games, the teams in Group A are back in action for their second match. Brazil and Mexico both won their opening games and a win for either side here will all but guarantee them a place in the next round of the tournament.
After a shaky start to the match, Brazil eventually had enough in the tank to dispose of a resolute Croatia who came to play rather than sit back and defend. After Marcelo’s own goal early on, Brazil had Neymar and Oscar to thank as their attacking prowess came through when others were under par. Neymar equalized with a drive from distance before scoring a penalty which was controversial to say the least. Fred was misjudged to have been fouled in the box but the decision seemed quite harsh on a night where Croatia will feel that they had been dealt a bad hand with the decisions in the match. Oscar, who was sensational during the match on the right hand side, finished the game off with a shot late on to give the hosts a winning start even though it was far from convincing. Brazil will want to produce a performance typical of their form pre-tournament to give their fans confidence going into their third match and hopefully further on.
Although Brazil did look shaky early on in the game against Croatia, you could probably blame that on first game nerves so Scolari will more than likely pick the same defence.
Hulk and Fred were poor during the first game and the former could be over looked in favour of Willian who had an impressive season with Chelsea in the previous campaign. Fred is likely to keep his place up front however with Oscar and Neymar again providing the support.
Key Players: Oscar
Oscar pulled out a man of the match performance in a game in which it was heavily needed. He contributed to winning the penalty as well as scoring a goal by feeding the ball in Fred who was then adjudged to be fouled. The Chelsea man switched from his normal central attacking position and shifted towards the right which many will argue that it helped his display, with Neymar also able to contribute in his favoured position. He gave the Croatian left-back a torrid time, completing seven of his 11 take on’s and was a handful at most of the Brazilian attacks. Mexico will have tough job on their hands to stop Oscar and a number of other players who will want to redeem themselves with a good performance.
Mexico would have been thinking that they were cursed at half time during their match against Cameroon with two perfectly legitimate goals chalked off by poor decisions by the linesman. Miguel Herrera’s men however did enough to win the game 1-0 and were quite comfortable against a Cameroon side lacking real quality. Hector Herrera and Giovanni Dos Santos showed Mexico’s creative side on a rain drenched afternoon and striker Peralta pounced on a good attack from his team to capitalise, making that his seventh goal in nine competitive games for Mexico.
Mexico are likely to go with the same team and with Peralta scoring, he is again likely to keep out Man Utd striker Javier Hernandez from the starting line up but expect him to appear in the second half as an impact substitution.
Key Player: Dos Santos
Giovanni Dos Santos was probably wondering what he had to do to score against Cameroon after having not one but two goals ruled incorrectly offside in the first half which would’ve given him and his team a great start. Both finishes were classy in different ways and it was a shame they didn’t count as Mexico’s overall play would’ve merited the score line. Dos Santos averaged a passing accuracy rate of 89% as well as a 100% shot accuracy which he would love to build upon against Brazil, in which a win would all but guarantee progressing for his team. As the main support for Peralta, Mexico will need Dos Santos as well as Herrera and Guardado to be on form.
Possible Team Line Ups
In the last ten fixtures, it is honours even between the two sides with each side winning four each with two draws along the way. Brazil won 2-0 in the last fixture between the two sides in the Confederations Cup last year with goals from Neymar and Jo. However Mexico had won three out of the last five before that match including wins against Brazil in the 2005 Confederations Cup and 2007 Copa America.
I know most people will bank this as a Brazil win but I feel that if Mexico can control the hosts at set-pieces, then they have a great chance to come away with a point which would be a fantastic result for Herrera’s team.