TV Coverage: ESPN in English and Univision in Spanish in the United States. In Mexico, Televisa, TV Azteca will have the match on TV and the Cinepolis theater chain will be showing the match on the big screens.
What Mexico Needs to Accomplish: After winning against Cameroon, Mexico is in good shape. It doesn’t necessarily need a result here as a victory against Croatia in the final group stage will see Mexico through to the knockout rounds. If Mexico loses, the minimum it needs is to score. Goal differential could matter and beyond that goals scored. With Croatia having gotten a goal against Brazil and Mexico only having one against Cameroon, Mexico needs a goal and to avoid a blowout loss so it can go into the final match needing only a draw to advance instead of a win.
Key player for Mexico: Giovani dos Santos. Question to ask while reading this. When was the last time dos Santos played consecutive strong matches for Mexico? No matter how long back it goes, the answer is that it has been awhile. Dos Santos needs to have a strong match to keep Mexico in it, either via goals or just to have some sort of attacking threat against a team significantly better than Cameroon.
Key player for Brazil: Oscar. While the best attacking player for Brazil is Neymar he is going to need help and that must come from Oscar. In the first game, other than the injury time goal, Brazil got nothing from Oscar, probably Brazil’s second best attacking player. A player of his talent needs to be better and he will have to be for Brazil to make the expected run to the championship. Against Mexico, Oscar needs to do a better of job of getting the ball in space and linking up with Neymar. That did not happen in the opener against Croatia as anytime Neymar had the ball, Oscar disappeared. The reality is that Neymar is going to have the ball or be around it and Brazil needs Oscar to figure out how to work within that context.
Tactics: Mexico’s 5-3-2 looked much more menacing than expected against Cameroon as it often morphed into a 3-4-3 formation, especially after Chicharito Hernandez came on as a sub. Against Brazil, expect this formation to be much more negative and defensive oriented as Brazil has far more talent to break down the Mexican defense. From there, Mexico will look to hit on the counter after staying disciplined and organized in the back.
For Brazil, expect a similar lineup to the first game. A 4-5-1 formation with Neymar and Hulk in the midfield is really more of a 4-3-3 and setup for attack. Expect more of the same with Hulk the first to make way if Brazil has a lead in the second half. Beyond that, there should be an adjustment to move Oscar closer to Neymar as those are the two most important playmakers for Brazil and getting them working together should open things further for Hulk and Fred up front.
One Big Advantage: Brazil’s attacking players are significantly faster than the Mexico defense. Manager Miguel Herrera of Mexico knows this as the Mexican 5-3-2 formation with five defenders is on the field mostly to combat the lack of foot speed in the back. Still, Brazil’s young and athletic attackers should be able to run past Mexican defenders if they get the ball in space, a dangerous proposition for the Mexican defense.
Final Prediction: Even with five defenders staying home, Mexico doesn’t have the foot speed or general defensive talent to stay with Brazil. It will have to find another way to stay with Brazil. Unfortunately, finding that other way will open the field, allowing Brazil to really get going. If Mexico can get an early goal like Croatia did, it might be better equipped than Croatia to hold it. Still, it is unlikely Mexico is able to take an early lead here and likely to have trouble as the game goes on. There is too much talent for Mexico to get blown out, but the result here won’t be pretty.
Bottom Line… Brazil 2, Mexico 0
A big DMX thank you to Joseph Miller of JMillerSports for todays game preview. Follow him on twitter for all your College Football and Grand Cycling Events, including this years Tour de France.
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