Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Brazil vs. Mexico: Film Focus Previewing World Cup Group a Match

The first round of group-stage matches is in the books at the FIFA World Cup 2014, and now we turn our attention to the second lot, starting with Brazil again.

Both the Selecao and Mexico won their opening encounters against Croatia and Cameroon, respectively, so how will they clash tactically in the game that could decide who finishes at the top?

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Brazil played a 4-2-3-1 formation in their win over Croatia and used the exact same starting XI that won the 2013 Confederations Cup final.

The difference was that the advanced midfield three lined up oddly, with Neymar central, Hulk on the left and Oscar actually out on the right. Neymar struggled to get into the game, clamped by Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, and it was Oscar who had the best 90 minutes receiving the ball and running at Sime Vrsaljko.

As a team they were nervous and edgy, attempted to force the ball into Neymar's feet, despite being marked far too often, and definitely got the rub of the green with the officiating.

Hulk is injured, per The Mirror, and may not make the clash against Mexico. That's good news and bad news, as it gives the Felipe Scolari a chance to rejig his side.


Mexico played in their usual 3-5-2/5-3-2 set, with flying wing-backs Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar doing some serious damage to Cameroon's back line.

Giovani dos Santos and Oribe Peralta moved freely and created space for themselves easily in the attacking third, and the Indomitable Lions, overall, looked gobsmacked at how quick El Tri were moving the ball.

They largely ignored Cameroon as an attacking threat and focused solely on their own game, believing they could win the game simply by outscoring their opponents.

That freedom will not extend to the Brazil game, though, with captain Rafa Marquez admitting some work will need to be done to nullify Neymar and Co.

"We have to cover, have two against one, be fast and reduce the spaces on the pitch—do not let [Neymar] play," he told Globo, via Sportal.

2 Tactical Clashes

1. Ramires/Willian/Bernard vs. Miguel Layun

Layun spent the entire first game against Cameroon buccaneering forward, getting in behind the defence and sending in low crosses. His very presence unsettled Volker Finke, convincing him to change right-backs at half-time.

With Hulk struggling to make it, Scolari must take a look at his options on the bench. Fortunately, both Ramires and Willian are tailor-made to track Layun's runs and help Dani Alves in the defensive phase.

Bernard, though, is not a great fit. He appears the manager's favourite, which is a concern for Selecao fans, as he's not durable or physical enough to handle the duties that beckon.

2. Clamping Dos Santos

Giovani dos Santos ran riot against Cameroon, using clever runs and a great touch to create space for himself and invite longer passes in from the defence.

The Indomitable Lions failed to deal with him, but Brazil are far better equipped to limit his impact with the stellar Luiz Gustavo in situ and the excellent Fernandinho on the bench.

Scolari likely won't man-mark him, but he'll have to make some allowances for Dos Santos dancing across the turf, ball in tow and danger afoot.

Bleacher Report will do a tactical preview and review of every single 2014 FIFA World Cup game. Stay tuned to this link and check it every day for more.

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