Teams: Brazil v Mexico
Date: 19 June 2013
Venue: Castelao Stadium, Fortaleza
Mexico are expected to wave goodbye to the Confederations Cup tonight, after taking on hosts Brazil.
The Central American nation started well, but could not convert their possession into meaning in their opening game against Italy.
Andrea Pirlo’s wonderful free-kick knocked the stuffing out of them, and Javier Hernandez’s penalty proved scant consolation to a team already short on confidence.
Mexico famously beat Brazil in the Olympic football final at Wembley last year, denying the Samba Kings the one piece of silverware (‘goldware’ in actual fact) that is missing from their mantle.
And with players like Hernandez, Javier Aquino, Andres Guardado and Giovani Dos Santos to call on, they do have the tools to damage Brazil.
The Selecao however, will take to the field with their tails up, after hammering Japan 3-0 in their opening game last weekend.
To be fair to the Samurai Blue, the scoreline was not a just reflection of the game.
While Neymar’s opening goal was as sumptuous a strike as you can get, Brazil hardly gave the impression of invincibility, their lack of competitive match practice plain to behold.
Until Paulinho scored their second, ‘Big Phil’ Scolari’s men were sweating under the pressure. And so they will be determined to put in a convincing display tonight, to book their place in the next round of the Confed Cup powerfully, as if to make the point that they are to be taken seriously.
For Brazil, Neymar will once again be tasked with the frontline inspiration, free to flit about Mexico’s defence with Luis Gutsavo and Paulinho likely anchoring the midfield behind him.
For Mexico, a win at all costs is necessary, and it will be interesting to see if they go hammer and tongs from the outset, or bide their time to wait for the inevitable Brazilian lapse.
There are contrasting pressures at play in this game: Mexico must win to survive, and even a narrow margin will do. Brazil however must win to cast away the lingering doubts about their ability. And they must win big.
Brazil or Mexico for the win?