The second round of the group stage kicks off June 17 with Group A front runners Brazil and Mexico, both coming off wins in their opening games. Brazil is coming off a very controversial 3-1 win against a stubborn Croatia, while Mexico defeated Cameroon 1-0 off of an Oribe Peralta goal.
Both teams will be providing plenty of attacking soccer full of flair and fancy footwork, with either team capable of scoring plenty of goals. How can Brazil cope with Mexico’s attack while ensuring their victory in front of their home fans?
1. Defend, Defend, Defend
Perhaps it sounds like Brazil will be on their back foot, but it will be quite the contrary: Brazil will most likely have the upper hand on possession. Mexico, however, will be looking to use the counter attack and attack from set pieces.
Mexico have a very peculiar lineup with how they run their 5-3-2. They are always one or two passes away from the ball being with Giovani Dos Santos, the Mexican forward most likely to give Brazil’s defense a few headaches. Oribe Peralta will also be looking to cause some trouble against Brazil’s goalkeeper, Julio Cesar, with his finishing capabilities.
Mexico is a big threat on set pieces due to 6’4″ Francisco Rodriguez and 6’0″ veteran Rafael Marquez. They also have numerous players that are capable of testing Cesar from almost any distance. David Luiz and Thiago Silva will need to be strong in the air to help Brazil keep their lead in Group A after their second round game against Mexico.
2. Oscar is The Man
Brazil seemed to struggle at points during the tournament opener against Croatia, but an outstanding performance by Oscar helped Brazil secure three points. Although Brazil scored a controversial penalty, Oscar assisted Neymar’s opening goal and scored the third goal.
Not only was he providing an essential workload at attacking midfield, he was tracking back to defend against Luka Modric and he was traveling out wide to take on Croatian defenders left and right. Expect Oscar to make the same impact against Mexico and wreak havoc on El Tri’s defense.
3. Just Score More
Simple right?! There have been more goals scored halfway through the first round of group play than the entire first round at the 2010 World Cup. Are defenses worst? No. Are offenses better? No. Is it the difference in world cup balls? Maybe, but one thing that is certain is that the fans are getting their money’s worth when it comes to watching goals and excitement. Both teams have impressive attacking lineups, but Brazil seems to be the more potent offensive power.
Whether Hulk is fit for the game or not, Brazil will have an adequate replacement out on the right flank. Fred always lurks up top and threats to win headers or lay off passes to oncoming teammates. I have touched on the Oscar’s prowess and we have seen the magic that Neymar can produce. Even with this roster, look for another attacking player to come on in place of a holding midfielder if the score is not in favor of Brazil late in the game.
Mexico’s attacking game may not be in its best form at the moment, but they have the ability to score some spectacular goals quickly. With Mexico’s potential goals lurking a second away at any moment, Brazil will need to grab an early goal and build on it once Mexico changes to more attacking soccer. This should be a close game with several chances at both ends and maybe, just maybe, we will see more wonderful goals in this game to accompany other highlight finishes from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.