Hosts Brazil take on Mexico in their second match in Group A and will look to secure their place in the next round. In an exclusive chat with Aditi Tyagi of Zee Media, former Indian skipper Baichung Bhutia analysed the game and also shared his thoughts on Brazil`s attack.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Will Brazil start as favorites for this match?
Yes, of course. Brazil are a very strong team and if you compare them man for man versus the Mexican team, you will notice the Brazilians are stronger than the Mexicans in every department. After beating a good Cameroon side, Mexico will be high on confidence coming into this match. Brazil didn`t play well against Croatia in the last match and yet they scored three goals. So I think backed by their home crowd, Brazil will continue their good record of three wins in three matches against Mexico and will make it four wins out of four at World Cup finals.
There has been a lot of talk about Hulk`s fitness. Is it a big blow for Brazil if he misses out or it won`t have much impact on this match?
I think Hulk not playing won`t have big impact on this particular match. But Brazil will definitely need his services for the next round against tougher opponents. Against Mexico, man of the match from the last game, Oscar can move to the left and Chelsea`s Ramires can play in the middle of the park. So I don`t think Hulk`s absence will be felt in the match against Mexico.
Neymar has been often called as the second Pele. How is Neymar different from other big name players like Messi or Ronaldo?
Well, Neymar is a complete striker. He can score off both feet and is good in the air. His biggest strength is the pace he has. He dribbles past defenders with pace like Ronaldo and Messi. He can score from a dead ball as well. This season, we have not seen many headed goals from him but that is also one of his strengths.
What will be the likely team formations for this match?
If you noticed in the last match, Brazil played a 4-2-3-1. Out of the two defensive midfielders, Gustavo will always stack back, which lets Alves and Marcelo to overlap. But the problem they faced in the last match was Alves left a lot of space at the back on the left. Croatians even scored their first goal from a attack on that left side. Fred will play as the lone striker with Neymar on the left and Oscar in place of Hulk on the right. I expect Ramires to take Oscar`s place in the middle. He is an attack minded midfielder who diligently performances his defensive duties.
Mexico play a very interesting formation, which I a 3-5-1-1 or 3-5-2. They will crowd the midfield against Brazil and not let Neymar have much space. Two of their midfielders will sit back deep and not venture forward as they did against Cameroon. They can expect plenty of defensive work today. They will not make the mistakes made by Croatia by allowing Neymar to run at defenders.
Despite Brazil having plenty of stars, Mexico are playing mind-games by pin-pointing Neymar.
Even Croatia tried the same thing last time but despite that Neymar scored two goals. Mexico`s captain, Rafael Marquez is an ex-Barca player, so he will know a lot about Neymar as he also plays for Barca. Brazil will rely on Neymar to run at defenders and play one-to-one passes with Fred. So there is no denying that Neymar is a key player and Mexico will give him most of their attention.