thumbnail Hello,
Live

World Cup

  • June 17, 2014
  • • 20:00
  • • Estádio Governador Plácido Aderaldo Castelo, Fortaleza, Ceará
  • Referee: C. Çakιr
  • • Attendance: 60342
0
FT
0

Brazil - Mexico Preview: Hulk a doubt as Group A high-flyers face off

Victory for either side will go a long way to securing top spot, with the host nation already thinking about qualifying as winners to avoid the best of a formidably tough Group B

By Robin Bairner in Fortaleza

Brazil and Mexico renew their old acquaintance when they meet at the Arena Castelao on Tuesday afternoon, with both sides having earned maximum points in their opening World Cup Group A fixtures.

While host nation Brazil could be thankful to the benevolent refereeing of Yuichi Nishimura for helping them to a 3-1 win over Croatia, Mexico earned a 1-0 success over Cameroon in spite of having two legitimate goals disallowed for offside in the first half. Regardless, both sides are now well placed to qualify for the last 16.

Neither Luiz Felipe Scolari nor Miguel Herrera are liable to overhaul their teams, though the hosts do have some concern over the fitness of Hulk, who limped out of training on Sunday morning with a thigh problem.

Although left-footed, the Zenit St Petersburg striker is typically used on the right, where his brutish power allows him to cut inside and unleash fierce shots goalwards.

Without this weapon, Scolari may opt for Bernard to fill the void, as it was the Shakhtar Donetsk man who came on to replace the 27-year-old midway through the second half of the Croatia game.


But Ramires is a further option, with the Chelsea midfielder’s energy down the right a potential antidote to a Mexico team that likes its wing-backs to be very involved offensively.

No doubt there will be scrutiny of centre-forward Fred, whose tumble in the box under the merest of touches from Dejan Lovren last Thursday sparked the first major talking point of the World Cup. Nevertheless, it will inevitably be Neymar, scorer of two goals in the opening game, who carries his nation’s offensive burden once more.

Mexico, meanwhile, are liable to remain unchanged from the side that defeated Cameroon thanks to Oribe Peralta’s goal just after the hour mark. Peralta and Hector Moreno have slight knocks, but these are nothing the camp is particularly concerned about.

Javier Hernandez, widely considered to be one of Mexico's star players, was surprisingly benched for that opening match and there appears to be little prospect of him being used as anything more than an impact substitute – a role that he admits he is frustrated at being cast in.

Nevertheless, this swashbuckling Mexican side will likely set themselves up to attack, which should make for another thrilling match in this entertaining World Cup group stage.

Players to watch

Oscar

Position: Midfielder

Games: 7

  • 2
  • 1
  • 0

Oscar has endured a significant amount of criticism from the domestic press in the past due to some lacklustre displays for the national team, though his performance against Croatia was lively and determined. While Neymar may be the Brazilian to grab the spotlight again, it is usually the threat of the Chelsea attacker that opens up room for his team-mate.

J. Vázquez

Position: Midfielder

Games: 3

  • 0
  • 2
  • 0

A relative newcomer to the international side, having only made his debut earlier this season, 26-year-old Jose Vazquez will be charged with the role of shackling Brazil’s offensive midfielders. He will be the most defensive of Mexico’s central players and his job is to shield a defence that can often be left exposed by the attacking instincts of men further forward. It is a tall task for the player nicknamed ‘El Gallo’ – the Rooster – for his distinctive hairstyle.

Editor's Prediction

Mexico’s attacking instincts will make for an open match and, while they may well nick a goal, they are likely to be overwhelmed by the hosts, whose offensive power will prove too much. Neymar, Oscar and the other Brazil stars are likely to be able to find space and, unless they have an unusual off day, they will use it effectively.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Brazil

Mexico

Wins
3
1
1
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Brazil BRA
Brazil Brazil
Draw
Mexico MEX
Mexico Mexico
62%
26%

Top 3 Predictions

Brazil BRA
2 - 1
Mexico MEX
Brazil BRA
3 - 1
Mexico MEX
Brazil BRA
1 - 2
Mexico MEX

Related

From the web