Brazil and Mexico both kicked off their respective World Cup campaigns with victories. The hosts defeated Croatia and El Tri edged past Cameroon by 1-0. Now the leaders of Group A will face each other to try and take control of the group in Fortaleza.
Brazil opened the 2014 World Cup with an emphatic win in front of the home fans with their star Neymar getting a brace. Although the score line looked as if they ran away with the match it was in fact a very close tie. Croatia would have come away from it feeling they got a bad break from the referees with a very questionable penalty being given against them and having a goal disallowed after a very harsh foul was called against them. To beat Mexico, Brazil will have to improve from the last match and be much more organized in defense, as the Croatians were able to attack very well on the counter. Neymar will be taking a lot of confidence into the Mexico match with two goals to his name, and that can only be a positive for the team having their best player playing at his best.
Mexico opened their World Cup run with a close 1-0 victory over Cameroon. Unlike Brazil, Mexico will actually feel that they were deserving of a much better result as they had two goals disallowed in the first half, when they were called offside on very questionable calls. El Tri were able to dominate the entire match, keeping Cameroon from creating any really great chances. They will be very happy about the performance given by forward Giovani Dos Santos who was unlucky not to get on the score sheet, as it was his two goals that were both disallowed through the offsides calls. To beat the host nation they know improvement will be needed. Brazil will most certainly present more of an attacking threat than Cameroon was able to mount and Mexico will have to be ready for that.
The two current leaders of Group A will both have tough lineup decision to make when they meet in Fortaleza. On Brazil’s side of things the health of forward Hulk is a concern, as he had to pull himself out of practice this week with a hamstring injury. Luckily for the hosts they are incredibly deep, especially in attacking talent. His likely replacement would be either Bernard who came on as a substitute against Croatia or Willian who plays in the Premier League for Chelsea. Mexico has to decide whether they start their enigmatic striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez or use him as a substitute as they did in their first match. Oribe Peralta played very well against Cameroon and got the games only goal, but he is not nearly as lively and energetic of a player as Chicharito, and that might be something the team needs as they try to defeat the hosts and go atop Group A.
For both Mexico and Brazil their next match against each other is crucial for them if they want to progress to the knockout stage. A draw will keep each team at the top of the group because the other match is between the two losing teams from the first matches. Just because a draw would help both teams does not mean either team will be satisfied with that result, as they both look to grab a hold of the group lead before the last match of the group stage. Hopefully the two attacking sides can continue the great goal scoring display this World Cup has shown the fans.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius