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Brazil v Mexico: Coutinho, not Neymar, the real star for Brazil

06:15 BST 01/07/2018
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Mexico will have Neymar in their sights, but can't afford to let Coutinho slip under their radar

Rightly or wrongly, Neymar has established himself as the star of Brazil - but if this World Cup is anything to go by, Philippe Coutinho is the real shining light.

Neymar has been a targetted man in Russia, fouled 10 times in Brazil's opening game against Switzerland and though getting on the score sheet against Costa Rica has struggled to set the competition alight.

Operating in Neymar's shadow and occasional theatrics, Coutinho has in comparison stepped up - scoring two and assisting one of Brazil's five goals to date.

Lacking the flash on and off the pitch of Neymar, the Barcelona attacker has gone under the radar somewhat in Russia and Mexico must be alert to his threat if they're any hope of causing an upset.

Coutinho's first international goal was in fact against Mexico back in 2015 and he's certainly in the form to strike again in a round of 16 clash the Central Americans have a poor record in. 

While Brazil have made the World Cup quarter-finals every time since 1990, Mexico have in comparison fallen at this hurdle in each of their past six World Cups.

Standing in Mexico's way of a long-sought after quarter-final birth is a Brazilian side undefeated in their past 14 matches and who has never lost nor conceded against Mexico across their four World Cup meetings.

Though history is against them, the El Tri have already pulled off a massive upset in Russia by beating Germany 1-0 in their opening match - a result that ultimately saw the 2014 winners knocked out at the group stages.

While a 3-0 loss to Sweden dampened the Mexican spirit somewhat, they need to dust themselves off quickly if they're any chance of producing another shock.

Key to that will be ensuring Coutinho, and not just Neymar, is given the proper attention his form surely warrants. 

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