FIFA CONFEDERATIONS CUP

Estadio Castelão

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Brazil

  • Neymar 9'
  • 90' +3'

2 - 0

FT

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Brazil v Mexico: Preview

John Brewin

Fortaleza and its Castelao Stadium are in North Eastern Brazil. The stadium makes its Confederations Cup bow, its first major footballing assignment since redevelopment ahead of the 2014 World Cup finals, though it did recently stage a concert by 'Hey Jude' hitmaker Paul McCartney.

After an opening round of matches that were generally pretty entertaining, the second phase of the group stage can begin.

What's on the line?

The difficulty of being a player or manager for Brazil's national team was showed by the widespread dissatisfaction in their performance against Japan on Sunday. A 3-0 scoreline flattered the hosts, with Jo's injury-time goal being harsh on the Asian champions. The flying start delivered by Neymar's wonder strike was not built upon and there were rumblings of discontent before Paulinho could score a second. Luiz Felipe Scolari's team need to win this match far better than they did their first.

As so often when confronted with teams out of their CONCACAF comfort zone, Mexico struggled against Italy, and were rather flattered by the narrowness of Italy's margin of victory. Brazil might present an even greater challenge, even if they are more familiar opposition. Mexico had actually begun well on Sunday before succumbing to Andrea Pirlo's magic from a free-kick. But beyond Chicharito's penalty, a fair share of possession was converted into little in the way of chances. Should they lose here, then this tournament is over, and their Hexagonal qualification worries can resume.

Style and tactics

Neymar will be granted the free role from which he scored his curtain raiser. That means the rest of the team has to stay relatively rigid to accommodate him, with Fred (or perhaps Jo) essentially playing as a lone striker until his erstwhile partner joins him. Gustavo and Paulinho will be paired as the type of deep-lying midfielders that gave Scolari his greatest success, and it would be a surprise if the coach changes his age-old winning formula. Secure victory here and the experimentation can be employed against the Italians in Salvador.

Jose de la Torre will most probably resume his selection of a lone striker being supported by a 4-2-3-1 formation. That puts Chicharito through a lot of lonesome and tiring work, especially if Giovani Dos Santos is unable to get in the game. The central midfield pair will be doing plenty of sweeping up in front of a defence that is likely to be deep-lying for the majority of the match. One of the aims will be stop the influence of Oscar.

Players to watch

The Chelsea pair of Oscar and David Luiz look crucial. Oscar's importance keeps growing; he is showing signs of being the new Kaka, though perhaps with less of a goal threat. Luiz has rarely enjoyed himself against Javier Hernandez's movement, and will be targeted by the Manchester United man. The aforementioned pairing of Paulinho and Gustavo did not exactly look in sync against Japan, and need to improve their collective showing in Fortaleza.

Gerardo Torado's experience will be important. Mexico need to retain their ball retention and he is the key to that. If Hernandez is to be given the chance to score, then he needs Javier Aquino and Andres Guardado to support he and Dos Santos. In goal, there were some questions raised about Jose Jesus de Corona's attempt to stop Pirlo's free-kick. He could do with playing far better here.

What can we expect?

The last time these two teams met in a competitive fixture was the Olympic final at Wembley. Even though Mexico won that famous occasion, there are far more Brazilian survivors likely to be playing here. Neymar, Oscar, Marcelo, Thiago Silva and Hulk will want to gain a semblance of revenge. That embarrassment last August followed a Mexican win two months previously in Dallas. Mexico's defeat to the Italians was blamed by their coach on individual errors and they will have to smarten up their act to extend their fine recent record against the hosts. Brazil need to show off their continued development. They have won their last two matches, which is something of a revival after the indifferent results of the previous year.

Who'll win?

Brazil, but they will have to win well, too.

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