Monday June 17, 2014 (3 p.m. EST)
The first round of group games is complete and the first second-round game is between two winners from Group A. Brazil opened the tournament in front of a huge home crowd and had a little help on a soft penalty call from the ref. They did not look great in the first game, as they allowed Croatia tons of space in the middle of the field and let in an early goal. It will be interesting to see how they respond. Mexico played a slow and steady opening game and worked in a goal in the second half. They have not been great since before the World Cup and now may be on the upswing.
Here are the highlights from the first round matches:
Brazil v. Croatia
Mexico v. Cameroon
Brazil – A Seleção (The Selection)
Coach – Luiz Felipe Scolari. Scolari led Brazil to victory in 2002 and came back in 2012 to try and repeat the performance. Great coach with tons of respect from his players.
Tournament history – 5 time winners in 2002, 1994, 1970, 1962, and 1958. Also reached finals in 1998 and 1950.
FIFA Ranking – #3
Brazil is very dangerous this year, as they will be playing in front of huge home crowds every game. Always a threat in the tournament, as evidenced by their 5 wins, and this time is no different. They have talent all over the pitch and a style of play that is exciting and beautiful. There are some concerns about the ability to control the defensive middle, but as long as the offense is scoring, they can beat any team.
Mexico – El Tri
Coach – Miguel Herrera. Herrera has been the final installment of the Mexican coaching carousal in 2013 (They had 4 coaches in 1 month).
Tournament history – Quarter-finals in 1986 and 1970
FIFA Ranking – #20
Mexico was very lucky to qualify for the World Cup, but have proven that they belong to be here. They have had some internal troubles with the coaching staff, but are healthy and have a chance to get out of the group.
Brazil is going to have such strong support for this match that I think it will be difficult to envision any other result than a victory. They will be fired up from the previous win and Neymar will be looking to add to his goal count. Look for Chicharito from Mexico to make an impact, but I dont think it will be enough to be the Brazilians.