World Cup opening matches are always important, but for Mexico –in Brazil 2014– their first match could prove to be decisive.
Being placed in the extremely difficult Group A, Miguel Herreras squad urgently needs a victory in their first 90 minutes in the competition –and a thrashing on Croatia by the hosts would also be quite welcomed by El Tri.
Croatia had a tough time qualifying to the World Cup, and has since changed their head coach and gone through lots of turmoil, but they have two of the most dynamic and in-shape players in the planet right now: Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic.
The Champions League and Europa League winners, respectively, team up in an outstanding midfield that not only recovers and distributes like the best, but also is in charge of setting up a natural-born killer like Mandzukic upfront.
Brazil knows this, and Marcelo has already warned his teammates about Modrics ability to pull a team to victory. Hes seen it happen, more than once, at Real Madrid.
So, if Mexico is to make it to the next round, they will most likely need to battle it out against Croatia for the second place in the group, and for that, the first day of competition will be crucial.
Cameroon is not the team they once were.
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Cameroon’s head is not in the World Cup
As of a week ago, the entire team had resigned and did not want to travel to Brazil. Etoo and his partners in crime are not happy with the work being done in the Federation, and did not want to commit to competing in the World Cup without getting paid their bonuses for qualifying.
The Federation finally came through and the players made it to the South American continent, but their head is somewhere else, clearly.
Theyve won two matches (against Moldova and Macedonia), tied against Germany and lost to Paraguay in their preparation matches for the tournament, and overall have not given the best image as a team.
Mexico is hoping to capitalize on that very aspect. Sure, El Tri also hasnt impressed in its friendlies pre-World Cup, but Herrera has managed to make their players believe.
Just 48 hours before the start of the tournament he said in a press conference that he was only willing to participate in a tournament if he thought he could lift the trophy, and it is that winning mentality that Mexican fans are hoping he has transferred to his 23 men.
Getting a resounding victory over Cameroon is the only way for Mexico to hope to make it to the next round, and a potential thrashing of Croatia at the hands of Scolaris men would probably set up Herreras group nicely for success.
If that were the case, Brazil would reach their second match against El Tri quite satiated, and a good performance by Mexico may even allow them to tie the almighty Pentacampeao. On the other hand, Croatia and Cameroon would meet on day 2 of Group A with the urgent need to win and, at that juncture, a tie between them would put Mexico just one point away of the second round.
While it sounds like a lot planning before the ball even start rolling in the Samba-nation, the key to the equation is a right and clear victory of Mexico over Coach Finkes team in their World Cup opener.
Only then will el Tri fans everywhere be able to continue dreaming with seeing their team come out alive of such a tough group.