World Cup Group A preview: Brazil v Mexico
Head to head
The teams have met on a total of 38 occasions with the ledger firmly in favour of the Selecao with 22 wins. Mexico has 10 wins and there has been 6 draws. Mexico has only ever beaten Brazil once on their home soil in a friendly way back in 1968 (2-1).
On paper Brazil looks the better team with attacking options littered across the park. Another shaky start against Mexico will be a worrying sign for Coach Luiz Felipe Scolari as he looks to secure top spot in the group and put the nation at ease.
Mexico seemingly had a much smoother start with a comfortable win against Cameroon in very damp conditions and will be hoping to hone their effective ‘play the ball out from the back’ style.
If given too much width or space their deadly counter attacking brand could pay dividends. That being said, execution and mistake free football will be paramount if they are to avoid being on the receiving end of a punishing football master class led by Neymar Jnr and his band of merry men.
The big Issue
The issue has always been what Mexico team turns up. Their inconsistency in tournaments swings from the sublime to just plain average. If Brazil is clinical the scoreboard attendants could be in for a very busy night with the Neymar, Oscar and Fred show taking to the stage in Fortaleza. Restricting soft turnovers and taking advantage of limited chances in the attacking half will be a key if Mexico is to cause a boilover.
Already being blessed with so many wonderful football contests in less than a week, the entertainment value should prove no different. This is a must watch game if not for the fan atmosphere alone. It is the type of match-up that if played in slow motion could somehow appear at normal speed.
For the winner will go the spoils and whoever succeeds in the battle will be assured of their place in the knockout round if the Croatia and Cameroon clash ends in a stalemate.
The game breaker
Mexican Giovanni Dos Santos was dangerous with every run against Cameroon, but his eagerness and timing will need to be measured inch perfect if he is to avoid the scrutiny of the sideline officials.
A hamstring injury cloud continues to hover above key forward Hulk, and his mobility and speed could limit Brazil’s effectiveness in attack. It will be interesting if Scolari risks him in such an important match in favour of employing his potential arsenal as they move deeper into the round of 16. If the star is absent in favour of Ramires, then look for a very “Hulk Mad” performance when he next takes to the pitch.
Prediction: Brazil 3-1 Mexico
The Mexicans always have the ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character to cause an upset and have done so as recently as the Olympic final in London two years ago when they defeated Brazil 2-1 to claim gold.
History can always be important in predicting the future but I think that Brazil, together with the goal friendly ‘Brazuca’ ball, will continue to find the netting in a measured victory over a spirited and vastly improving Mexico side.