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World Cup

  • June 13, 2014
  • • 12:00 PM
  • • Arena das Dunas, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte
  • Referee: W. Roldán
  • • Attendance: 39216
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World Cup Preview: Mexico-Cameroon

The Group A underdogs face each other in their first match, both aware that a victory in Arena das Dunas is a must to have a real chance of progressing in the tournament

NATAL, Brazil — Foes this Friday at Arena das Dunas, Mexico and Cameroon actually share a common path to Brazil 2014. Both seemed destined to watch the World Cup on television before their chances were revived thanks to circumstances outside their control.

With Brazil a clear favorite to win Group A and Croatia a strong candidate to take second spot in the group, El Tri and the Indomitable Lions know a victory in this first game is a must to have a real chance of going far in the tournament.

After a disastrous 2013 in which four different managers were in charge of the team, Mexico heads to its opener with a starting 11 that includes only four players from the team that started one year ago in the Confederations Cup.

With just over half a year to prepare for Brazil, Coach Miguel Herrera has installed a 5-3-2 system that has its main strength in its defense, where 35-year-old veteran Rafael Márquez has come back to provide the the leadership the team lacked during its awful qualifying phase.

In attack, Olympic gold medal heroes Oribe Peralta and Giovani Dos Santos are two terrific talents, while Manchester United’s Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández will wait for an opportunity to make his trademark impact coming from the bench.

On the other hand, the losses of likely starters Juan Carlos Medina and Luis Montes to injuries in the weeks leading to this summer's tournament forced Herrera to scramble to find a new midfield; now formed by Bayer Leverkusen’s Andrés Guardado, Porto’s Héctor Herrera and the inexperienced José Juan Vázquez, a trio that actually worked quite well in their first game together last week against Portugal.

German coach Volker Finke has had a bit more time to work with Cameroon – he was appointed in May 2013 – opting for a very compact and organized 4-3-3 formation, yet lacking creativity in midfield at times. Like Mexico, Cameroon is likely to repeat the starting 11 of its last friendly, a 2-2 draw against Germany.

Veteran captain Samuel Eto’o is still the focal point of the attack, but is now playing as a true striker, and is not able to help as much in the creation of chances as in the past. That is now the job of wingers Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Benjamin Moukandjo, who get constant help from their full backs.

Marseille’s Nicolas N’Koulou and Schalke’s Joel Matip are two very solid center backs, while Konyaspor’s keeper Charles Itandje has struggled to find consistency on club level, but in recent times has showed impressive form with his national team.

LIKELY STARTING XIs:

MEXICO (confirmed): Ochoa; Aguilar, Rodriguez, Marquez, Moreno, Layun; Herrera, Vazquez, Guardado; Dos Santos, Peralta

CAMEROON: Itandje; Djeugoue, Matip, Nkoulou, Bedimo; Enoh, Song, M'bia; Moukandjo, Eto'o, Choupo-Moting


Players to watch

G. Ochoa

Position: Goalkeeper

Games: 0

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 Ajaccio’s goalkeeper will finally make his World Cup debut after spending Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 on the bench. Coach Miguel Herrera admitted his toughest decision for the starting 11 was the goalkeeper, one of the strengths of El Tri, but Ochoa’s great performances with the modest French team gave him the nod over Olympic gold medal winner Jesus Corona. If he can replicate his Ligue 1 form, opposition strikers will definitely have a very tough day; if he fails, it could be a first and a last for the 28-year old keeper.

A. Song

Position: Midfielder

Games: 0

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The big name of the team played for Chelsea last season and goes by the name Samuel Eto’o, but the true key is Barcelona midfielder Song; although his club usually limits him to defensive duties, he can actually play any role in the centre of the field. If he can take advantage of the absences and lack of cohesion in Mexico’s midfield, that will add another dimension to Cameroon’s attack, which is at times too dependent on their quickness on the flanks.

Editor's Prediction

Somehow, Mexico always manage to overcome their pre-World Cup struggles and show their best football in the tournament, as their five appearances in the last 16 of the past five editions – a feat only matched by Brazil and Germany – can testify. On the other side, Cameroon’s best days are now a long-distant memory and off-field issues have affected the team once again - with their arrival in Brazil delayed due to an financial dispute.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Mexico

Cameroon

Wins
1
0
0
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Mexico MEX
Mexico Mexico
Draw
Cameroon CMR
Cameroon Cameroon
51%
19%
30%

Top 3 Predictions

Mexico MEX
2 - 1
Cameroon CMR
Mexico MEX
1 - 2
Cameroon CMR
Mexico MEX
1 - 1
Cameroon CMR

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