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World Cup

  • June 23, 2014
  • • 21:00
  • • Itaipava Arena Pernambuco, Recife, Pernambuco
  • Referee: R. Irmatov
  • • Attendance: 41212
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Croatia – Mexico Preview: Latin Americans well-placed for group decider

Croatia – Mexico Preview: Latin Americans well-placed for group decider

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Unless Cameroon produce an upset for the ages, only one team will leave Recife with a place in the round of 16

By Luis Herrera in Recife

Croatia and Mexico meet this Monday in Arena Pernambuco in a game that will likely decide who qualifies in second place of Group A - providing Brazil follow the script and beat Cameroon in Brasilia.

These teams are no strangers in the World Cup. They faced each other in 2002, a game that ended with a 1-0 victory for the Latin American side, eventual winners of the group, while the Europeans were eliminated after finishing third.

Mexico arrive to this game with the advantage of knowing a draw would be enough to seal their ticket to the round of 16. They have a full strength squad to choose from and coach Miguel Herrera has stated he does not plan to make changes to his starting 11 from the previous two matches.

Mexico are one of only two teams yet to concede a goal in the tournament, but they have lacked attacking power, scoring only once, with Manchester United star Javier Hernandez still only considered good enough for a place on the bench.

“You [can] win with [just one] goal. Spain were champions by winning by one [goal, in 2010], so what’s important is scoring the goal before the opponent and keeping a clean sheet at the back. That’s the most important thing”, said Herrera in a press conference.

Croatia had no such problems in front of goal as their attack exploded against Cameroon in a 4-0 rout, but Mexico’s draw with Brazil renders goal difference irrelevant heading into their final Group A fixture.

Niko Kovac knows his side need to beat Mexico to reach the last 16, assuming Cameroon do not produce a miracle against Brazil. They come into the game confident and boasting plenty of attacking firepower in the form of Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric.

“The pressure is similar to the opening match”, admitted Rakitic. “We need to win to proceed to the next round. We are ready and we know it will be a difficult game against Mexico. We must play perfectly, we want to win and I hope we accomplish it.”

Players to watch

M. Mandžukić

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0

After two goals against Cameroon in his first World Cup appearance, the Bayern Munich striker has to rise to the occasion and do what Neymar and Co couldn't by scoring past Guillermo Ochoa.

G. dos Santos

Position: Attacker

Games: 0

  • 0
  • 0
  • 0

The defence has done a terrific job so far, but Mexico can’t rely on another low scoring affair to reach the next round. They will need more of their attack and Giovani is the man who can exploit the spaces that Croatia eventually will concede.

Editor's Prediction

There are few constants in the World Cup but Mexico reaching the round of 16 is one of those, having achieved that feat in each of the past five tournaments, only matched by Brazil and Germany. Croatia may have more in terms of talent, but Mexican players are used to playing this kind of win-or-go-home match and it could give them the edge.

Last Five Matches

Head To Head

Croatia

Mexico

Wins
2
0
2
Wins

Betting & Predictions

Reader's Predictions

Croatia HRV
Croatia Croatia
Draw
Mexico MEX
Mexico Mexico
41%
47%

Top 3 Predictions

Croatia HRV
1 - 2
Mexico MEX
Croatia HRV
2 - 1
Mexico MEX
Croatia HRV
0 - 2
Mexico MEX

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