World Cup Group A: Mexico v Cameroon

By on June 13, 2014

Mexico and Cameroon will fight it out for a win in the second game of Group A with both sides knowing that all three points are a must if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top 2.

The game at the Arena das Dunas is set to be an exciting one as two sides who are tipped to go home from the group stages are fighting it out with each other. Both sides know that with Brazil being clear favorites to top the group and Croatia being favorites for the 2nd spot, their chances of qualification to the next round are slim. Three points from this game will give the winner a huge boost going into the remaining two games and a fine dispaly in the subsequent games could earn them the right to qualify to the knockout phase.

Mexico did not have an easy route to World Cup qualification and El Tri actually had to rely on circumstances out of their control to qualify. They had to rely on other team’s dropping points, for them to qualify but luckily for Miguel Herrera’s men, they did qualify and they are now at the biggest event of the year. The last year has been very tough for the Mexican national team having gone through four coaches in that time period giving the new manager Miguel Herrera only abut half a year to prepare for the World Cup. But Herrera has been rather bold in his attempt to fix the predicament of the national team and has installed a totally new philosophy into the side. His team now play a 3-5-2 and only four of the elevn players that started the Confederations Cup are part of this starting XI. The squad has gone through a total overhaul and some progress has been made. With that in mind, their chances of finishing in the top 2 are still not very great. Brazil are favorites to top the group and Croatia are tipped to finish second. Mexico have to play at the highest possible level if they are to defy the odds and finish above Croatia. Herrera will be well aware of the fact that their opponents, Cameroon, also face the same predicament and thus it will be a direct battle between the two sides and who ever comes out on top will take one step further towards a potential second place finish. the two teams face the same predicament form-wise as well, as Cameroon have not been very impressive recently either.

Miguel Herrera’s new look Mexican side has veteran Rafael Marquez at the heart of defence and the idea is that the 37 year old will instill his authority on the side and provide the necessaray leadership that was lacking a year ago. Furthermore, Herrera’s side now play by a different formation as well that transitions between a 5-3-2 and a 3-5-2, with Guardado and Aguilar playing as the wingbacks. This formation will give his three man defence a lot of cover. Giovanni dos Santos will be a key player for Herrera in attack. The former Barcelona man had a splendid season with Villarreal and the coach will hope that he can replicate the same form for his national team. Carlos Vela’s decided to not join the national team after having disagreements with the football federation of Mexico and that will hurt them. However, Peralta and Chicharito are more than capable of covering up for him.

They have not been in very good form in their recent international friendlies,  having won only two of their last five international friendlies while losing two. They lost those two friendlies in a row. Their record in the World Cup finals is not very impressive either. Mexico have lost more games than any other team at World Cup Finals (24). Plus, Mexico have never beaten an African team at a World Cup Finals tournament, losing one and drawing two of their three meetings against sides from that continent so far and this will be only the second ever meeting between these two countries; Mexico won the first clash 1-0 in a friendly in 1993.

Cameroon, like Mexico, did not have a very comfortable qualification round either. They too had to rely on other teams to drop points so that they could qualify for the Wiorld Cup finals. German coach Volker Finke has found it a bit hard to find his best working starting XI. Unlike his counterpart, Finke has had plenty of time to prepare as he was appointed in May of last year and has worked with his group of players for quite some time and thus will be more clear on how his team should approach this game. One thing will be very clear though which is the fact that his side require all three points if they are to have any hope of qualifying for the next round. Brazil won’t budge on their statu as group toppers and Croatia have been tipped to finish second and it will a lot of work on Cameroon’s part to finish above them. Finke’s side will face Brazil and Croatia in the subsequent games therefore if they can get all three points in this one, and combine that with a good result against Croatia, then they might find themselves playing in the Round of 16 come the end of the group stages. The fact that would play in favour of Cameroon is that Herrera has not had a lot of time to prepare for the World Cup and has only managed the Mexican national side in 2 competitive international games and those were against New Zealand. With Herrera still not sure of his best working eleven, Finke’s side can outplay the Mexicans if they are just a little bit clever in going forward.

The German coach has used a compact 4-3-3 formation but his problem is the lack of creativity in the side. There really aren’t any creative players in his midfield with the likes of Song and M’bia being more defense minded mifielders. The Indomitable Lions used to rely on the creativity and mobility of star striker Samuel Eto’o for inspiration in recent years but he too is now a victim of age and cannot play the same role he used to in recent editions of the tournament. He is now an all out striker with no creativity in his bank. That only leaves Finke with Moukandjo and Choupo-Moting as the creative players and both the wingers might easily be contained by Herrera’s five man midfield.

Cameroon played three friendlies coming into the World Cup finals and won one while losing one of them. Their last friendly was against Germany though and they held the Germans to a 2-2 draw. That could give Finke’s side a lot of confidence. But the biggest statistics that goes against them is the fact that they have only won one of their last 13 World Cup games (1-0 v Saudi Arabia in 2002), drawing four and losing eight.

Mexico lost Juan Carlos Medina and Luis Montes to injuries which was a real blow for them as both have been a creative threat. Herrera’s new midfield will now rely on Guardado to provide the creativity while Giovanni dos Santos will do the same from the center forwards position. Rafael Marquez will be at the heart of the defence providing much neede leadership and experience.

Cameroon are expected to start witht he same line-up they used against Germany with Samuel Eto’o leading the attack. Joel Matip is expectd to start alongside Song and M’bia in midfield but if he starts as a center back, then Enoh will be deployed in midfield. Moukandjo and Choupo-Moting will provide the threat from the wings.

DATE: June 13, 2014

TIME: 5:00 PM BST

VENUE: Arena das Dunas, Natal, Rio Grande do Norte

REFEREE: W. Roldasn

PROBABLE LINE-UPS:
Mexico (3-5-2):- Ochoa; Moreno, Marquez, Reyes; Guardado, Fabian, Pena, Herrera, Aguilar; Santos, Peralta
Cameroon (4-3-3):- Itandje; Bedimo, Chedjou, N’Koulou, Nyom; M’bia, Matip, Song; Choupo-Moting, Eto’o, Moukandjo

RECENT FORM:
Mexico:- L L W
Cameroon:- D L W

AUTHOR’s PREDICTION: Mexico 2-1 Cameroon

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