The matchup many consider to be the cream of the crop in Group A takes place on Tuesday when Brazil and Mexico face off. It is a chance for the host country to show off its pride in style, not to mention make a statement and move on to the round of 16.
Whichever team wins this game will move on to that round, as it would have a 2-0 record and a good chance to outlast any tiebreakers. Brazil looked strong in a 3-1 win over Croatia, while Mexico barely outlasted a rugged Cameroon squad to prevail 1-0 in its opener.
Brazil is considered the third-ranked squad in the FIFA ratings, and it is certainly the most decorated of the World Cup contestants. The country has five titles to its credit, but the last one came in 2002. Brazil reached the quarterfinals in 2006 and 2010.
Brazil shut out Mexico 2-0 in the Confederations Cup held last year, which was the last time these two countries met in a soccer match.
Much of the scoring strength goes through two forwards on the roster, each with one-word names in the tradition of Pele. Neymar (Neymar da Silva Santos is his full name) has 33 goals during his time on the team. Neymar scored two of his team’s goals in the win over Croatia. Fred, short for Frederico Chavas Guedes, has 17 goals.
Mexico has qualified for the round of 16 in each of the past five competitions, with its best-ever finishes coming in the quarterfinals in 1970 and 1986. Forwards Javier Hernandez (35 goals) and Oribe Peralta (17 goals) are the big scorers on the team. It was Peralta who had the lone goal in the win over Cameroon.
Based on previous history and where this is being played, Brazil should prevail but it will be a close contest. Defense could rule the day on both sides, but in the end Brazil will move on to the round of 16 (or have a great shot, anyway) and Mexico could stay in a solid position to also qualify.
Predicted score: Brazil 2, Mexico 0