We’re 11 days down in World Cup 2014 and haven’t paused for breath yet. It’s been a roller-coaster ride from Day 1, and as the halfway stage approaches, it’s all set to be the most thrilling tournament to date.
Day 12 in Brazil sees the second four-game day of the World Cup, as Groups A and B come to a close with knockout-stage places still very much up for grabs.
Here, we take a look at where and when the matches get underway and predict the final group standings come the end of Day 12.
|Match||Time||Venue||TV Info||Live Stream|
|Cameroon vs. Brazil||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Brasilia||ITV1/ESPN2||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
|Croatia vs. Mexico||9 p.m. BST/4 p.m. ET||Recife||ITV4/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
|Australia vs. Spain||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Curitiba||ITV1/ESPN2||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
|Netherlands vs. Chile||5 p.m. BST/12 p.m. ET||Sao Paulo||ITV4/ESPN||ITV Player/ESPN Player|
Though Brazil have been far from their best in the World Cup so far, you have to believe that they’re just building up to peak at the right time.
Both Croatia and Mexico were unlucky not to get more from their respective matches against the hosts, but Cameroon’s clash is looking like another story entirely.
The African nation has shipped five goals in their two matches and hasn’t exactly shown the team cohesion that a nation needs for World Cup success—as Bleacher Report revealed via Twitter:
With Brazil needing a victory to top Group A and head into the knockout stage with an air of confidence in their camp, expect the hosts to come out all guns blazing in Brasilia.
Better still for Brazil is that Cameroon are likely to be without their star man, Samuel Eto’o, per the Agence Presse-France (via FIFA.com), who hasn’t played a part since their opening match against the Mexicans.
At the other end of the pitch, young sensation Neymar will be looking to add to his already-fantastic scoring record for Brazil.
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
He’s shown already during the World Cup that he’ll be having a big impact on the tournament, and with Cameroon’s shaky defence standing between him and more success, the goals could be flying in.
Meanwhile, in the group’s other match, Mexico take on Croatia with a place in the knockout stage the prize for the tie’s victor.
The Mexicans were good value for their 0-0 draw against Brazil and need only a point to progress to the last 16, but midfielder Rafael Marquez insists that they’ll be going all out for the victory—per FIFA.com:
“We’re not going to play for the draw, that’s something we need to watch out for at all times. We won’t change our playing system. Croatia will be giving everything for the win and we will, too.”
If the Mexicans deploy the same attacking style that they used against the hosts, then they’ll enjoy themselves in Recife and could just about scrape to victory.
Depending on how heavy a victory Brazil record, Mexico will go through as runners-up with Brazil, and both teams will have very tricky ties against the sides progressing from Group B.
Though both Chile and the Netherlands have already progressed to the knockout stage with a pair of victories apiece, the battle for top spot in the group is set to be fierce in Sao Paulo on Day 12.
Sitting together at the top of the group on six points, the prize of avoiding Brazil in the next round awaits one of Monday’s competitors, though the Dutch look the most likely.
Louis van Gaal has forged his side into a real force at the World Cup and recently reflected on the importance of avoiding the hosts in the last 16. When asked by FIFA.com whether or not it’s important for the Dutch to avoid Brazil, he responded:
“Definitely. If I were allowed to choose, I’d rather not play against Brazil, although Croatia or Mexico aren’t bad opponents either. But I think at a World Cup the host country always has an advantage.”
However, to avoid the hosts, the Netherlands must take at least a point from their match against Chile, which is no easy feat.
Though they have one of the most stubborn defences in the tournament, they also harbour the kind of front line that can trouble any back line.
Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez is the star of the Chile show and has a formidable recent international record, per OptaJoe:
7 - Alexis Sanchez has played a hand in the last seven goals that #CHI have scored (six assists and one goal). Conductor.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 13, 2014
As the Dutch have a rather sluggish defence compared to the Chile forward, it’s up to Van Gaal to get his tactics right and force Chile into the long-ball game.
If he can do that, then the Netherlands will be going through as champions, leaving Chile to face their South American counterparts and try to spoil the hosts’ party.
The other Group B match sees Australia take on Spain in Curitiba, where there’s nothing but pride to play for.
Two losses from two has seen the world champions eliminated, while the Aussies suffered the same fate after two defeats of their own.
For Spain, Day 12 will be a day to seek redemption for their poor World Cup form, and you can guarantee that they’ll have what it takes to lift their spirits with no pressure on their shoulders.
In doing so, they’ll take third place in the group—who could have predicted that one? But that’s just the unpredictable beauty of a World Cup.