Breaking Down Mexico's World Cup 2014 Group Stage Opponents

Karla Villegas Gama@karlitsvFeatured ColumnistDecember 6, 2013

Mexico will play in Group A of the 2014 World Cup along with Brazil, Croatia and Cameroon. This is the eighth time El Tri has been in the first sector (two of those when they hosted the tournament in 1970 and 1986).

Let's break down Mexico's rivals:



When: Friday June 13, 2014 at 12 p.m. ET

Where: Estadio das Dunas, Natal

Samuel Eto'o will lead The Indomitable Lions in their seventh World Cup appearance.

Having played in some of the most prestigious clubs in world football, his vision and fine touch set him as the team's mastermind.

He will not be alone. Pierre Webo will also be in the attack zone ready to help him.

Meanwhile, Stephane Mbia, Alexandre Song and Landry N'Guemo will try to keep the ball and distribute it in the midfield.

Olympique de Marseille defender Nicolas N'Koulou will have a lot of work to do, especially when it comes to aerial game.

We have seen how much El Tri have improved in this area, especially with Oribe Peralta and Raul Jimenez.

This should be Mexico's easiest game. Cameroon's footballers have great physical conditions—they are fast and strong—but their technique has deficiencies.

They also have a huge dependence on Eto'o, and El Tri need to take advantage of it.

A win in the opening match will be key for Mexico, and it could not be a better rival to accomplish the feat.



When: Tuesday June 17, 2014 at 3 p.m. ET

Where: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza

The Verde-Amarela are the clear favorites to secure not only this group but also the tournament.

Brazil are the most successful team in World Cup history, with five wins.

With a squad full of young and talented footballers, it is almost impossible that they miss even one point in the group stage.

Mexico faced Brazil earlier this year at the Confederations Cup, in the same stadium.

The Brazilians defeated El Tri 2-0, but it was not a walk on the park. Neymar scored in the ninth minute, while Jo sent the ball away in injury time.

Mexico know how to make things hard for Brazil. And even history tells us that El Tri have never defeated the Verde-Amarela in a World Cup match, they have not lost for more than two goals since 2004 (six games).

Fred, Neymar and Hulk will be stellar in the attack, while the strong midfield, led by Paulinho and Oscar, and Thiago SIlva and David Luiz's impeccable defense will put El Tri in a tough spot.

This is the only game Mexico can lose if they want to qualify to the round of 16.



When: Monday June 23, 2014 at 4 p.m. ET

Where: Arena Pernambuco, Recife

This is surely one of the European teams that Mexico longed to have in their group.

Like Cameroon, Croatia rely heavily on a handful of players that provide creativity and depth to the team.

Luka Modric, Mario Mandzukic and Eduardo da Silva are the Blazers cornerstones.

Modric is a fantastic midfielder who can help the offense and the defense without compromising the team. His ball control and technique will put Mexico in distress. He must be at his best to make the difference for Croatia.

Mandzukic has been lethal with Bayern Munich this season, having scored 10 times in 20 appearances. His dribbling inside the box and aerial game are superb.

Eduardo has a fantastic shot with his left foot and is lethal at close range thanks to his technique and his speed.

However, the Mexicans have a good shot at winning this if they keep the ball possession and they attack the Croatians through the sidelines, which is Miguel Layun's specialty.

Vedran Corluka, Josip Simunic and Danijel Pranjic will have a lot of work to do at the back.



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