World Cup Group A | Brasilia | Mon 23 Jun | 9pm
Time for the hosts to move through the gears.
The natives are getting restless. And yet, despite being frustrated by Mexico, Brazil should still top Group A, providing the Aztecs don’t win comfortably against Croatia. What press, public and players want most, though, is a performance that suggests they are serious contenders to win the whole thing.
In a way, they’re on a hiding to nothing against Cameroon. Already out after a staggering self-implosion against Croatia, the Indomitable Lions have nothing but, er, pride to play for. They’ll have to do it without Alex Song, though, banned after losing the plot as the west Africans went down 4-0. You would also expect Benoit Assou-Ekotto to be missing after his “unimaginable” headbutt on team-mate Benjamin Moukandjo.
Despite his coach’s support (see below), you would expect centre-forward Fred to drop to the bench. Whether Jo comes in as a direct replacement or Neymar plays as a false 9 in an attacking reshuffle is the conundrum facing Brazil.
Either way, nothing but a convincing win will do for the hosts, and even that might not be enough to make everybody happy.
What the local media say
Not a lot, actually, They were left speechless after Luiz Felipe Scolari, clearly feeling the pressure, attacked them following the uninspiring draw against Mexico. “I hope you’re pleased with yourselves,” the coach concluded at the post-match press conference, seemingly blaming them for the lacklustre performance of Fred. Only one way to keep them quiet, Big Phil…
Key battle: Joel Matip vs Jo
Jo provided more spark than Fred when he appeared as a substitute against Mexico (although he could hardly have provided less), giving the Selecao attack a focal point and creating space by attempting to run behind the defence. Matip was left out of the first game and had his work cut out in the second after holding midfielder Song was sent off in the first half against Croatia. But the Schalke centre-back has bags of potential and will hope to prove it before Cameroon head home.
Facts and figures
- Brazil’s third group game against Cameroon will be their 100th at World Cup; they are the second team to reach that tally in the competition (Germany leads with 101 games).
- Cameroon have kept only 1 clean sheet in their last 18 World Cup games.
- Brazil haven’t failed to top their World Cup group since the last tournament in South America (Argentina 1978).
More FFT Stats Zone facts
Selecao step up, but bigger challenges lie ahead. 2-0.