Brazil wouldn’t have taken much from their opening performance but both Mexico and Cameroon look to have a serious task on their hands based on what we saw yesterday evening, making this a seriously important game for the pair of them today.
El Tri have the better tournament pedigree, reaching the water finals on their last 5 tries only to go out at that stage, and that will be the target again for them. It looks achievable on the face of things given previous tournament records but there was nothing promising about the way Mexico limped into the finals apart from their new manager, Miguel Herrara. Selecting only Mexican based players for their playoff, they beat New Zealand 9-3 on aggregate with Oribe Peralta helping himself to 5 goals in that pair of ties, and since then there has been some sort of consistency to the side although how seven European based players are integrated into the 23 is going to be very important.
Cameroon arrive here in much the same fashion. Volker Finke has stayed as the manager through the campaign but they were laboured and fortunate to come up against Tunisia in the playoffs. A pay dispute, which led to them refusing to board the plane and arriving a day late, is not a healthy precedent for a squad that has it’s problems bonding in the past and Samuel Eto’o and Alex Song’s dispute is not strong ground to start a challenge upon. That said, combined with Vincent Aboukabar and Stephane Mbia, they prove a decent spine in terms of power and if getting enough of a foothold can change the game.
The worry is that their previous tournament record points to anything but success. They have only won one of their last 13 World Cup games (1-0 v Saudi Arabia in 2002), drawing four and losing eight, and they averaged just a goal a game in their qualifying section when most of their major names were present.
Mexico’s previous record is far more inspiring and crucially they possess the pace and forward power needed to make a difference in tight games. I’ve talked about Oribe Peralta already but his form for the National side is arguably even more impressive than Javier Hernandez, a constant threat at this level,, former Spurs man Giovanni Dos Santos combined to make a potent attacking trio. I’m loathe to read too much into friendlies but in two defeats to Bosnia and Portugal Mexico provided stiff resistance with Portugal breaking through thanks to a 90th minute winner from Bruno Alves.
In what’s likely to be a tight game and not one for heavy staks, El Tri’s superior attacking options just make more appeal, but I can’t see this being a trashing, so the one goal winning margin makes appeal at 3/1 although the draw has to play a part here and is hard to turn down.
1 pt Mexico to win by 1 goal (3/1 Ladbrokes)