II IS curtains up for World Cup 2014 with Brazil scoring full points against Croatia in the opening game at the Arena Corinthians. Two goals from Neymar and one from Oscar sealed the win though the match was marred with a controversial penalty decision. We look at Group today with previews on Spain vs Netherlands and Cameroon vs Mexico
SPAIN vs NETHERLANDS
Arena Fonte Nova will witness one of the most anticipated matches for the 2014 World Cup. It’s a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final.
Defending champions Spain is set to face Netherlands in what promises to be an explosive game. Wesley Sneijder said he can’t forget the pain in 2010 and will look to exact revenge.
Vicente Del Bosque will be hoping to do a first by clinching consecutive world cup titles but he knows it’s going to be an arduous task. Louis Van Gaal will also want to leave on a high by helping Netherlands to get a respectable finish or even win the title.
This match is going to set the tone in group B. If any of this team wins this match, they will go on to the next round and it will boost their confidence throughout the tournament.
Who will triumph in the tactical battle?
Most of the players who played in the 2010 World Cup is in the squad for this tournament. The current Spain is one of the best international sides in history, They won Euro 2008 and 2012 and 2010 World Cup and this team was led by their talismanic goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Casillas who only played in Cup and Champions League for Real Madrid last season will lead this side and he will need to be at his best against Netherlands forwards.
Gerrard Pique and Sergio Ramos will be the centre-backs and expect them to hold the ball and spray passes to their midfielders and forwards. Jordi Alba and Cesar Azpilicueta will play a key role by being the second wingers for Spain.
In midfield, Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets and Xavi Hernandez will dictate the tempo for Spain. Age may be catching up on Xabi and Xavi but with their experience and ability to play the ‘tiki-taka’, Del Bosque knows his side will play lots of possession football.
Andres Iniesta and Cesc Fabregas will be the key playmakers for Spain and they will have to provide chances for Diego Costa who will be their new centre forward.
Most of them have played together for a long time and some have said that they are predictable. The Confederations Cup final last year showed their frailties and Netherlands might want to exploit that in today’s game.
Louis Van Gaal is a strict tactician and is known as an animated character in the touch line. He has built a tactically solid squad built around Kevin Strootman but this time, Strootman is not in the squad.
Strootman is out with an injury and Van Gaal had to change his tactics with this current squad. Netherlands is a team in transition and only the attacking outlet will be spearheaded by experienced players.
Jesper Cillesen who has an amazing season with Ajax Amsterdam is set to be the main goalie for Netherlands. We’re used to seeing Joris Mathijsen and Johny Heitinga as centre-backs but this time, the defence will have a new look.
Ron Vlaar and Bruno Martins Indi will be the new centre-backs while Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind will be the full-backs for Holland.
Van Gaal seems to prefer a 4-3-3 style. In midfield, he will have Nigel De Jong, Jordy Clasie and Wesley Sneijder as the advance playmaker. Arjen Robben and Jeremain Lens will be the wingers while Robin van Persie will be the target man for this Dutch side.
Van Gaal has an exciting team but will they be able to beat the experienced Spaniard? It will be a tough call but I can assure you, we’re in for a cracking match!
Both sides have what it takes to win a game on their day but I’m going for a draw. Spain’s predictable play and Netherlands transitional period will be the key factors throughout the match. The midfield battle will be important in this match and I see it to be an even battle between these two sides. The score, Netherlands and Spain to share the spoils, 1-1.
CAMEROON vs MEXICO
Both teams are not fancied to qualify out of the group but a win tonight will help build confidence for the winning side.
Miguel Herrera will lead Mexico while Volker Finke will have to regroup his players who at first didn’t want to board the flight due to a bonus row.
Who will prevail in this battle? Here is a preview of Cameroon vs Mexico.
We might have not seen Cameroon playing in Brazil. Due to a bonus row, the players led by Samuel Eto’o refused to board the plane to Brazil if they were not paid their bonuses.
Eventually, the row died down and the players will feature in tonight’s game. If they’re in their element, Cameroon can certainly be the ‘Indomitable Lions’!
However, if they decide to show their other side, then Mexico will have it easy but knowing Finke, he will never allowed that to happen.
Former Liverpool goalkeeper Charles Itandje will start in goal and he will be protected by the likes of Joel Matip and the domineering Aurelien Chedjou in defence. Nicolas Nkoulou and Henri Bedimo, both based in Ligue 1, will be the full-backs.
Stephane Mbia, Jean Makoun and Alexandre Song will from the midfield trident and if they click, Mexico is going to have a tough time tussling with them.
The front three will be key for Cameroon. Eto’o will lead the line and he will have ample of supply from Eric Maxim Choupo Mouting and Pierre Webo. Those two are capable of scoring goals too.
Samuel Eto’o headlines the first eleven and his duty now is to unite the whole team and play their best football. Will he be able to do so? We shall see in tonight’s match.
Miguel Herrera can be bubbly with his players but when it comes to business, he is one man who wants his charges to win a game at all cost.
He is relatively new with the Mexican set-up but the players have looked comfortable under his leadership.
Mexico is one of the best North American sides but in this group, it will be tough for them to qualify for the second rides with sides like Croatia and Cameroon in this group.
If they overcome their hurdle against Cameroon, then they might have a shout for the second round. Guillermo Ochoa had an impressive campaign with Ligue 1 side AC Ajaccio will be the goalkeeper for tonight’s match.
Rafael Marquez and Francisco Rodriguez, both veteran defenders, will be the centre-backs while wing-backs Paul Aguilar and Miguel Layun will be tasked to provide crosses for their forwards.
Jose Juan Vazquez will be the pivot while Hector Herrera will be the box-to-box midfielder for the Aztecas. Andres Guardado and Giovanni Dos Santos will be the creative fulcrum for Mexico.
Oribe Peralta who was key during the qualifiers will partner with ‘The Pea’ Javier Hernandez in attack. If both click, expect goals from the Mexicans.
The battle will be in midfield and it will be interesting to see if the 4-4-2 formation work against the African side. Weather wise, both teams are able to adapt to the conditions.
If you ask me, Mexico is set to win this tie because of Cameroon’s inconsistency in international tournaments. Samuel Eto’o alone can’t do wonders and the recent bonus row is somehow going to affect Cameroon. Oribe Peralta will continue his rich vein of form for Mexico and the likes of Guardado and Dos Santos will have a field day against the Cameroon defenders. Mexico to beat Cameroon 2-0 in Estadio Das Dunas in Natal.