Brazil and Mexico met in the group stages of World Cup 2014 and played one of the most exciting 0-0 draws ever played. A match full of chances and opportunities, the two giants of the beautiful game combined for 847 passes, 27 shots including 8 on frame, but none finding the back of the net. It was fitting that the sides shared the points that day.
This time however, sharing the points is not an option as Mexico and Brazil meet in the round of 16. Mexico is the last remaining team from CONCACAF as Panama and Costa Rica were sent home in the group stage. Mexico finished second in its group losing out to Sweden for the top spot on goal differential, both sides having survived the group of death draw with Germany who was surprisingly sent home in last place in the group. Mexico has scored just 3 goals in its 3 matches while conceding 4.
Brazil topped its group and has conceded just once in its 3 games while scoring 5.
With Messi and Ronaldo gone from the tournament, Neymar has his chance to stamp his name on this World Cup and join the conversation of who is the world’s best footballer. He has a long way to go however, having scored just once in the group stages.
Mexico’s attack has been led by former United man Javier “Chicharrito” Hernandez, Carlos Vela and Hirving Lozano. Each on one goal, they’ve provided a threat to the opponent’s backline, but have lacked finishing quality.
This could be a harbinger for Mexico as the task of beating Brazil means slaying several ghosts of World Cups past.
Before even thinking about beating Brazil, the first problem for Mexico will be just scoring a goal. In four World Cup meetings with Brazil, Brazil has won three of the four the only result from Mexico that was positive what is the 0-0 draw in the World Cup 2014. In those meetings, Brazil has never concede it a goal to the North American side.
Stylistically, Brazil is tough for Mexico to play against as both sides like to play an attacking style. Mexico played the counter attacking game to near perfection against Germany and its World Cup opener and it’s likely that Osorio’s side will try to do something similar in this match against The South American giants.
Another problem for Mexico, will be they will be forced to play without Hector Moreno who will be unavailable due to suspension for yellow card accumulation.
It’s a pace vs. pace matchup and Brazil has better quality. Should Osorio choose a track meet , El Tri Could be in for a long day and another bad result at a World Cup against Brazil.
Predicted XI: formation, 4-2-3-1. This is the way Mexico played against Germany, they will likely employ the same strategy.
Keeper: Ochoa – no reason to swap out the keeper, Ochoa has been solid.
Defenders: Salcedo, Ayala, Alvarez , Gallardo – Osorio could opt for Mexican legend Rafa Marquez to take Moreno’s spot. I think he will however go with a younger player as Mexico will need to inject pace into the squad at the back.
Midfield: Guardado, Herrera, Layun, Vela, Lozano – they will use Layun’s pace to linkup in counters.
Prediction: Brazil 2, Mexico 0