Brazil vs. Mexico: Key Battles That Will Decide the Outcome
Brazil will take on Mexico this Wednesday hoping to build upon their opening day 3-0 victory over Japan. For El Tri, though, it is a game they cannot lose if they wish to progress to the semifinals.
While both sides come into the game off the back of very different recent results, recent encounters between the pair have shown there to be very little between the two sides.
Brazil, at home, will be favourites, but it is the type of fixture that is often settled by the outcome of individual duals in different areas of the pitch. One player stepping up to dominate their opponent could win the encounter for their side.
Let's, then, take a look at some of the clashes to look out for in Fortaleza.
Neymar vs. Gerardo Flores
The star of the show for Brazil on Matchday 1 of the Confederations Cup was Barcelona forward Neymar, who took just three minutes to smash home a right-footed half volley from 20 yards.
From that moment on, belief was surging through his veins, and the young forward quickly began appearing all across the pitch. He was well marked by his opponent on the night, but was a major threat throughout, regardless.
Mexican right-back Gerardo Flores will be the man charged with marking him on Wednesday night, assuming there are no last minute changes in plan for the Mexican side.
Flores moved into midfield for the second half of his side's opening encounter with Italy, and showed his abilities with the ball at his feet. His defensive strengths, though, will be tested to the full by the young Brazilian if he can reproduce the same form as he showed against Japan.
Oscar vs. Gerardo Torrado
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Experienced Mexico midfielder Gerardo Torrado has made a recent return to the national team setup, with a view to helping El Tri recover from a run of poor form.
With 139 caps, Jose Manuel de la Torre knows exactly what he can expect from the midfielder. A composed figure at the base of the midfield, Torrado will calmly go about his play in his usual unspectacular style.
He will only have his current performance levels, though, and will be tested fully against Brazil, while going against the Selecao's attacking midfielder Oscar, who is regularly his side's best performing player.
Oscar will hassle Torrado throughout, with his high intensity pressing remaining a key part of Scolari's plans, and he will require constant monitoring when in possession of the ball.
The battle of this pair could be key to game's end result.
David Luiz vs. Javier Hernandez
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In general, it has been the Mexican who has emerged on top from the duo's encounters. Luiz has tended not to cope well with fast, intelligent strikers, and Hernandez's goalscoring record against Chelsea is fairly impressive.
David Luiz had a reasonable opening fixture with Japan, but showed signs of over-eagerness that must have been a slight concern to the Brazil management. Hernandez will capitalise on any such moments of madness.
Luiz, though, can be a truly outstanding defender when he focuses and controls his urges to rush out and make a tackle. Against a striker as intelligent as Hernandez, he will need to be on top form.
Marcelo vs. Javier Aquino
The battle between Brazilian left-back Marcelo and Mexican right winger Javier Aquino will be an interesting clash to watch on Wednesday evening, with both players attack minded.
Aquino did not have the best of times against Italy, and was substituted at half-time in favour of an additional defender. After a good start to life at Villarreal, he will be keen to show his talents on the international stage.
Up against him will be Real Madrid full-back Marcelo, who was impressive for his country in the tournament's opening clash. One of the world's best attacking full-backs, he will hope to push forward and support Neymar ahead of him.
That may well be Aquino's most important role for his side. If he can prevent Marcelo pushing forward and joining the attack, he will greatly limit Brazil's attacking threat on the left flank.
If he can go further and capitalise on any space Marcelo may leave, then Hernandez and Giovani dos Santos will offer plenty of movement for him to pick out in central areas.
Luiz Gustavo vs. Giovani Dos Santos
Having been relegated from La Liga with Mallorca this season, Giovani dos Santos' club career is not quite developing as planned. However, when he's sporting a Mexico shirt, he has consistently shown that he should be playing at a higher level, including against Italy on Sunday evening.
He will, though, be closely tracked throughout by Bayern Munich's Luiz Gustavo, who will be charged with monitoring the former Barcelona youngster.
If Mexico are to achieve success against Brazil, they will need Giovani to come to the fore against the land of his ancestry. He is the hub of Mexico's attacking play and cannot afford to disappear.
Brazil are susceptible in defensive midfield areas, with Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho yet to strike up a coherent partnership. There will no doubt be space for Giovani to exploit, but he must once more prove that he can consistently influence games at the top level.