Mexico face Cameroon in an enticing World Cup Group A match on Friday. Both sides will be hoping to score a key victory during their opening-tournament encounter, especially given that challenging matches against Croatia and hosts Brazil await.
When: Friday, June 13
Where: Estadio das Dunas, Natal
Start Time: 12 p.m. ET, 5 p.m. BST
TV: ESPN2 (U.S.), ITV (U.K.)
|June 7||Mexico 0-1 Portugal||L|
|June 4||Mexico 0-1 Bosnia-Herzegovina||L|
|May 31||Mexico 3-1 Ecuador||W|
|May 29||Mexico 3-0 Israel||W|
|April 3||USA 2-2 Mexico||D|
|June 7||Cameroon 1-0 Moldova||W|
|June 1||Germany 2-2 Cameroon||D|
|May 29||Cameroon 1-2 Paraguay||L|
|May 26||FYR Macedonia 0-2 Cameroon||W|
|March 3||Portugal 5-1 Cameroon||L|
As highlighted above, both nations have suffered with inconsistent form in the run-up to this year's World Cup. Mexico drew with bitter rivals USA back in April and since then have beaten decent opposition in the shape of Israel and Ecuador, the latter of whom are represented in Brazil.
Losses to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Portugal certainly provide worry when considering Miguel Herrera's team faces strong opposition in Croatia and Brazil after the Cameroon clash. Mexico's limitations have been highlighted across the past year, but their upcoming African opponents have suffered a similar fate.
Cameroon were on the end of a total whooping when they faced Portugal in March and have only managed to beat weak rivals since then. Wins against Macedonia and Moldova provide little to get excited about, but the 2-2 draw with a pretty much full-strength Germany side does.
The loss to Paraguay before this ensures both Cameroon and Mexico head into their clash with two wins, two losses and a draw from their previous five.
Which team will win this match?
Cameroon's World Cup preparation has been blighted with problems. The squad refused to fly to Brazil due to a dispute over bonus payments, reported by L'Equipe and via The Guardian. Such conflict between the players and national FA means concentration is likely to be off, giving Mexico the chance to pounce.
Herrera's team need Giovani dos Santos to be on form if they are to make an impression. He is likely to start up front in place of Javier Hernandez, whose recent lack of form for Manchester United hasn't gone unnoticed. Both dos Santos and Oribe Peralta possess the finishing prowess to overcome a powerful Cameroonian side that will base its play through a handful of key players.
Samuel Eto'o will lead from the front against a Mexican side that aims to utilise energetic football. Play will be funnelled through the experienced forward whose dwindling pace ensures he will need to hold the ball up and wait for support. Alex Song—who will sit in the heart of midfield—holds the key to distribution. If he can get his foot on the ball, look up and spray, Eto'o will have plenty to work with.
Alex Richards of the Mirror details Stephane M'bia's prominence, saying, "M'bia will play an important part in Cameroon's approach to set pieces (at both ends) and his energy and work-rate will ensure they are tough to break down in open play."
Although the African side will impose itself in the physical battle, one has to question whether the events of the past week will have an effect.
Mexico's offensive output borders on relentless at times as the coach desperately tries to rejuvenate El Tri's rhythm, which has consistently been lacking over the past year. The full-backs will bomb, Andres Guardado will join the strikers when needed and quick counters will be designed to catch the Cameroonian back line out.
As such, plump for a narrow Mexico win.
Prediction: Mexico 2-1 Cameroon