Brazil, Mexico set for fiery battle in Samara

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Brazil and Mexico will meet for what promises to be a fiery 2018 World Cup last 16 clash at the Cosmos Arena in Samara on Monday, July 2, kick-off at 16h00 CAT.

Brazil

Brazil eased through the first round in relative comfort, topping Group E with seven points. ‘A Selecao’ were frustrated by Switzerland in their opening game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, before claiming 2-0 wins over both Costa Rica and Serbia to claim safe passage.

The South American heavyweights have not been at their imperious best, but coach Tite will at least be satisfied at their gradual improvement through the group stage.

Philippe Coutinho
MOSCOW, RUSSIA – June 27: Philippe Coutinho of Brazil in action during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group E match between Serbia and Brazil at Spartak Stadium on June 27, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

For Brazil, Neymar has shown an improvement in his form and fitness (though he still looks a shadow of his usual self), but Philippe Coutinho’s elegant playmaking and the indefatigable midfield running power of Paulinho have papered over the cracks.

Mexico

Mexico’s form, by contrast, appears to have gone in reverse. The North Americans opened their Group F campaign in spectacular style as they defeated reigning champions Germany 1-0, and then all but sealed their place in the knockout phase with a 2-1 triumph over South Korea.

Yet in their final group game – with their progression not fully guaranteed – ‘El Tri’ imploded, suffering a 3-0 defeat to Sweden which was best summed up by the laughable own goal scored by defender Edson Alvarez.

Had it not been for Germany’s wretched showing which brought a 2-0 loss to Korea, Mexico may well have exited the tournament despite being arguably the best team on show through the first two sets of matches.

‘El Tri’ coach Juan Carlos Osorio will hope to break new ground in the country’s recent football history, as they seek to avoid a seventh successive exit at this stage of a World Cup, but he’ll need his star players to come to the party.

Hirving Lozana
Hirving Lozana is the man to watch

Hirving Lozano was outstanding against Germany but his influence has gradually waned – perhaps the challenge of Brazil will bring the best out of him. Veterans Javier Hernandez, Carlos Vela and Andres Guardado will also be key to Mexico’s hopes of upsetting the five-time champions.

Brazil VS Mexico

In head-to-head terms, Brazil and Mexico have met in 40 matches, according to FIFA’s statistics database. ‘A Selecao’ have claimed 23 wins compared to 10 for ‘El Tri’, while seven games have been drawn.

The teams have met in four World Cup matches and Brazil are unbeaten in that particular sequence (W3 D1) – in fact, Mexico has never scored a goal against the South Americans at the global tournament. Their last ‘Mundial’ meeting was a group stage game in 2014 which ended 0-0, while their most recent clash overall was a friendly in June 2015 in Sao Paulo which ‘A Selecao’ won 2-0.

Brazil VS Mexico
Brazil’s Willian (R) vies for the ball with Mexico’s Rafael Marques during a friendly football match in preparation for the Copa America Chile 2015 at Allianz Parque stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on June 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO / Miguel SCHINCARIOL (Photo credit should read Miguel Schincariol/AFP/Getty Images)

Brazil is the clear favourites and comes into the match with momentum and history very much on their side. Mexico will have to clear their heads after the thumping loss to Sweden if they are to have any chance of a major upset.

Brazil v Mexico – head-to-head

Matches played 40
Brazil wins 23
Mexico wins 10
Draws 7
Brazil goals 73
Mexico goals 36