Brazil return to World Cup action on Tuesday looking to make it two wins out of two in Group A as they take on Mexico in Fortaleza.
Luiz Felipe Scolari’s side were less than convincing in their tournament’s curtain-raiser against Croatia, but their 3-1 victory under the pressure of an entire nation showed how they can prevail even in the toughest of circumstances.
Their work will once again be cut out at the Estadio Castelao, as the Mexicans look to build on their opening 1-0 victory over Cameroon.
Venue: Estadio Castelao, Fortaleza
Date: Tuesday 17 June
Time: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET
TV Info: BBC One/ESPN
Hosts Settling into the Tournament
Has any crop of Brazilian stars ever had this much pressure on them in a World Cup? Surely not, and the weight on their shoulders was clear for all to see on the opening day.
It took two counts of sloppy goalkeeping and a rather confusing penalty decision to see Brazil over the line against Croatia, but winning ugly is the sign of champions.
It's a tight call for Brazil's man of the match between Neymar and the Referee.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 12, 2014
As the tournament progresses, we’ll likely see Brazil reach their best and typically peak at the right time, though they must deal with the threat of the Mexicans first.
Miguel Herrera’s side dominated from start to finish during their 1-0 victory over Cameroon in Natal, with Oribe Peralta’s 61st-minute strike proving the difference in the end.
Mexico showed no fear on the big stage in their opener, and goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa says that they’re not intimidated in the slightest at the prospect of facing the hosts—per FIFA.com:
"We’re not nervous about it at all. In fact, getting a start like this has calmed our nerves. The team’s only going to get stronger and we’re on the up and up. So we’ll be going into the game in a happy frame of mind and ready for the challenge."
Whether or not Ochoa will be ready for the challenge that Brazil striker Neymar brings, though, remains to be seen.
The Barcelona man netted twice in the opening match, albeit somewhat fortuitously, and demonstrated his direct, fluid style of play whenever in possession.
With two goals to his name already, Neymar is a shoo-in for the Golden Boot at the end of the tournament as his sensational international goalscoring record looks set to continue.
33 - In his 50th appearance for Brazil, Neymar scored his 32nd & 33rd goals for them. Graphic. pic.twitter.com/KEIy4Z3Rp0— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 12, 2014
However, one player who may not be alongside him in his quest for glory against the Mexicans is Hulk, who has been struggling with a thigh injury since the Croatia clash, per Sky Sports:
Exciting youngster Bernard replaced him just after the hour mark on Sunday, and he’ll likely play a part from the start if Hulk cannot return to full fitness.
Whichever team lines up for Brazil, though, you can guarantee that their attacking, delicate style of football will remain.
Despite Mexico being a strong unit and vying for a place in the knockout stage for their seventh World Cup running, the task of defeating the hosts could just be a step too far.
Prediction: Brazil 2-0 Mexico