Group A kicked off the 2014 World Cup Thursday when hosts Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1. Mexico beat Cameroon 1-0 the next day to join Brazil at the top of the group with three points. The next matches are crucial for each team with Mexico playing Brazil and Cameroon facing Croatia.
Brazil: The hosts of the 2014 World Cup kicked off the competition in style with a 3-1 victory over Croatia. They had to come from behind to win after Marcelo put in an unfortunate own goal early on. Although it was not their best performance, they were able to dominate possession and create a lot of chances. Moving forward they will need to improve on defense if they want to achieve their goal of winning on home soil. Against Croatia they were caught at the back on many counter-attacks and will have to do better against Mexico, who are very capable of bringing the attack to them. Confidence will be in no shortage after great performances from both Neymar and Oscar, who are crucial for the hosts if they want to progress. Next up for them is Mexico, who were the other winners from the first matches. It will be a crucial tie for both teams as they look to take a hold of the group lead and try to win Group A.
Croatia: The Europeans lost their first match of the World Cup to Brazil under a lot of controversy. They will feel that refs helped the hosts by awarding the go-ahead penalty, and disallowing a goal of theirs because of a very questionable foul call on Olic. Looking forward they next have a very winnable match against Cameroon, but they might have to play without their star Luka Modric, who has been bothered by a foot injury in recent days. They will get their striker back in Mario Mandzukic, who missed the Brazil match through suspension. Against Cameroon they will need to grab the full three points if they hope to move onto the knockout stages.
Mexico: El Tri got what they wanted in the first match of their World Cup run in a win over Cameroon. Even though the final score was only 1-0, the Mexicans have to be taking confidence from the match as they dominated proceedings and could have had two more in the first half, if not for questionable offside calls. After a very sloppy qualification campaign, the expectations for them were not very high, but their first performance really gave confidence to the players and fans alike. Next they have the favorite and hosts in Brazil, and if they can get a point, or even three, they would almost secure themselves a place in the knockout stages.
Cameroon: The African nation lost their opening match in this year’s World Cup to Mexico 1-0, but showed signs of life in the match. On the attack, they were not able to create much outside of a few counter-attacking opportunities, but in defense they showed great resolve not letting Mexico create more than one goal that came off of a rebound. To move on in the competition they will need to improve greatly on the offensive end. There are attacking options on the bench, but taking out Samuel Eto’o can not be an option for them so they will have to find a new way to line up in attack. Up next the West Africans have Croatia, who they will have to get points against to keep alive any hope of advancing.
Commentary By Max Petkevicius