World Cup Preview: Mexico v Brazil

TOPSHOT - Sweden's team players take part in a training session of the Sweden national football team at the Ekaterinburg Arena, in Yekaterinburg, on June 26, 2018 on the eve of the Russia 2018 World Cup group F football match between Mexico and Sweden. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP/Getty Images)

Through two games of the tournament, Mexico felt like one of the favourites, and Brazil was one of the underperforming big dogs. But that’s why they play the third game. Mexico laid a gigantic egg vs Sweden and Brazil got a satisfactory 2-0 win over Serbia. Now going into the matchup, Brazil are decidedly in the catbird’s seat.

Mexico v Brazil

How We Got Here

Mexico were the darlings of the first World Cup week. They absolutely dominated Germany, setting the tone for the German failure. Their form slipped slightly in the second game, but they were still able to beat South Korea. However, they were disastrous against Sweden, getting outplayed all over the pitch.

They’re going to have to hope they can recapture their form from the Germany game because they will need their best. Brazil started pretty slow, a 1-1 draw with the Swiss followed by a very late victory over Costa Rica, left them looking like more bark than bite. However, after their comfortable win vs Serbia, Brazil have found the engine to make them tick.

Many would expect that engine to be Neymar. In fact, the PSG star has had an alright World Cup, scoring against Costa Rica, but struggling against Switzerland & Serbia. Their engine has been Philippe Coutinho; easily the best player in the tournament so far. Coutinho scored in both of Brazil’s first two games and provided the assist to Paulinho in the third.

Since engineering a move to Barcelona in January, Coutinho has been slicing up defences in 2018. Brazil has placed him in their midfield alongside Paulinho & Casemiro forming a very potent midfield three. It’s a midfield three that one would expect to bring more control than it has through three games.

Mexico’s Best Chance

Mexico will need to play on that lack of control to in order to maximize their chances against Brazil. They need the game to be as chaotic as possible. Expect them to come out flying and pressing Brazil’s backline if they have any chance of beating them. Brazil are going to have to be very careful possessing the ball at the back. They do not have the best passing defenders and Mexico might be able to exploit that.

The other thing Mexico will need to do is limit their turnovers in the middle section of the field. Brazil have been thriving on midfield turnovers and quick outlets to either Coutinho, Neymar or Willian. Brazil are hoping Douglas Costa will at least be fit enough to be on the bench for this game, but his status is uncertain.

Mexico need to get Hirving Lozano and Carlos Vela pressing aggressively high up the pitch like they did against Germany. What could play into Brazil’s favor though is they do not possess the ball the same way Germany do. They move the ball quickly getting it to the wide man, Neymar usually. If Brazil quickly beats the first pressure wave, Neymar and Coutinho will have space to attack that Mexican defence; big trouble for Mexico.

All in all, it’s expected that Brazil will be able to get by Mexico. It should be a tense affair, and the Mexican team should come out flying. It’s not very often you get to play against Brazil in the World Cup. But because they’re Brazil, they don’t lose to teams like Mexico very often. It will be an uphill fight for the Mexicans, but they just don’t have enough to upset Neymar & Co.

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