Winners Meet In Fortazela

Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP Photo
Neymar once again leads Brazil's attack, this time against Mexico. Picture: Adrian Dennis/AFP Photo

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Brazil v Mexico

Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Wednesday June 18 – 5:00 AM (AEST)

Brazil  will be out to back up their win over Croatia on Wednesday morning when the play Mexico in Fortaleza.

Brazil got their World Cup campaign off to the perfect start last Friday when they came from behind to see off a determined Croatia 3-1 in Sao Paulo. Neymar lived up to pre-tournament expectation in that match, notching a brace to steer the host nation to victory. Chelsea midfielder Oscar was arguably just as good as Neymar on the day, and capped off his impressive performance in injury time poking home Brazil’s third goal. Friday’s performance trashed talks of Oscar’s inability to shine on the world stage. It also means his club team mate Willian is likely to spend more time on the bench. One player who may join him there is Hulk, who limped off on Friday after straining a hamstring. The Zenit St. Petersburg striker was nowhere to be seen at training on Sunday, opening the door for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Bernard or Atletico Mineiro’s Jo.

Like Brazil, Mexico were first round winners in Group A after sealing a tight, but dominant, 1-0 win over Cameroon. Veteran striker Oribe Peralta got the nod to start over Manchester United’s highly-rated Javier Hernandez, and Miguel Herrera’s decision to select the 30-year-old paid off as he scored the winning goal in the second half. It was a game which should've produced a more inflated score line, but the referees again hit the headlines after disallowing two legitimate goals. Those decisions could come back to haunt the Mexicans, with qualifying on goal-difference shaping up to be a real possibility in this group. A win though over the hosts on Wednesday morning will almost guarantee them qualification. Even though that's a long-shot, Mexico can’t be overlooked. They dominated Cameroon and are more of a chance than people would think.

The betting suggests a Brazil win is most likely, but their opening win against Croatia highlighted some cracks in their game. Mexico are a team certainly capable of an upset, so it will be up to Brazilian coach Luiz Felipe Scolari to get the host’s feet firmly back on the ground after opening the tournament in grand style and to ensure the players focus is purely on football, not carnival! 


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