Brazil can underestimate buoyant Mexico at own peril (preview)
July 2, 2018 06:57 AM NPT
Players of Mexico attend a training session in Moscow, Russia on Friday, ahead of their 2018 World Cup Round of 16 football match against Brazil. (AP/RSS)
SAMARA, July 2: There are not many teams in world football who boast an even moderately successful record against five-time World Cup winners Brazil but in recent years Mexico has proved it has what it takes to upstage the yellow-shirted powerhouse.
Whereas seven of the teams in the knockout stages of the tournament have failed to record a single victory over Brazil since 2000 – admittedly Spain, Denmark and Belgium has only played the South American giants once each – Mexico has won six of its 14 match-ups with Brazil in the same time period. Only France, who has beaten Brazil three times in six meetings, has a better record of the remaining teams in the last 16.
More impressively, Mexico has won six of its last nine competitive fixtures against Brazil, losing just twice, and will go into the last 16 clash in Samara on Monday full of confidence.
A Mexican side also overcame Brazil to win the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London and Mexico held the host to a goalless draw in the World Cup group stages four years ago.
However, on various occasions in the past, these successes over the illustrious rival from the south have proven false dawns for Mexico and often a catalyst for Brazil.
Mexico’s 1-0 win at the 2001 Copa America is a case in point. It was a disastrous tournament for Brazil, who was knocked out by Honduras at the beginning of Luiz Felipe Scolari’s reign. However, that team went on to win the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea just 12 months later. Likewise, at the 2007 Copa America Mexico handed Dunga his first defeat as Brazil coach. Brazil went on to win the tournament, whilst Mexico lost in the semis.
Mexico may have produced some fine performances down the years but when it comes to the crunch games it often fails to deliver, as evidenced by its abysmal recent record in the World Cup knockout stages.
Its defeat to the Netherlands in the last 16 in 2014 was the sixth successive time El Tricolor has been knocked out in the second round.
Mexico last reached the quarterfinals when it hosted the tournament in 1986 and despite featuring at 15 World Cups it has only appeared in the last eight twice, both times as hosts.
If Mexico is to get over the hump and progress to the quarterfinals for the first time in over 30 years, it will have to overcome a Brazil side using the same defensive organization and pace on the counter-attack that did for Germany in the group stages.
However, Brazil is not Germany and possess far more creativity and fluidity going forward, which could cause problems for a Mexican team still reeling from a 3-0 loss to Sweden that almost ended its tournament.
It promises to be an action-packed tie in Samara with both sides susceptible to pace defensively while possessing plenty of speed in attack themselves.
If Mexico can harness the spirit of recent results against Brazil it could record the most impressive victory yet over its illustrious opponents and change recent Mexican World Cup history.
Brazil vs Mexico facts
Brazil and Mexico have met 40 times previously, with over half of those encounters ending in wins for the Seleção (W23 D7 L10)
Mexico has won none of its four previous games against Brazil at the World Cup (D1 L3). In fact, Mexico hasn’t even scored a single goal in those four matches (11 conceded).
This will be the fifth encounter between Brazil and Mexico at the World Cup.
Brazil last failed to reach the quarterfinals of the World Cup back in 1990. Since then,
it has always made it to
the last eight of the
Brazil will be looking to win its third game in a row at the World Cup which hasn’t
happened since the 2006 edition.
Brazil is unbeaten in its last 14 games (W10 D4), with its last defeat dating back to June 2017 against Argentina (0-1).
Mexico has been knocked out in the round of 16 in each of its last six World Cup appearances. In fact, it’s never progressed further than the
second round when playing a World Cup outside its own borders. Mexico is the team with the most games played at the World Cup without ever winning the tournament: 56 games, 0 trophy.