Brazil have a disciplined side and like every South American team, they have big name players. They however don’t rely on these key players as we have seen so far. When Neymar didn’t live up to expectations, other players rose to the occasion.
Mexico areone of the surprises of the 2018 World Cup after beating 2014 champions Germany. They have a rich tradition but they haven’t been able to achieve much at the World Cup. It will be very tough for them to beat Brazil but I believe they may spring another surprise.
Mexico’s strength is in their unity. In their last group match, they met a stronger Sweden side and they fell but that has not taken away their will to succeed. They have that grit and determination, which has been their key strengths. They also have the strength of numbers.
Brazil’s strength lies in the fact that anyone of them can score –as seen in their last group match when Thiago Silva came from the defence to score the second goal. What Brazil also have going for them in Russia is their ability to keep pushing and it has worked for them. Apart from their first match against Switzerland, where they scored early, most of their goals have come late. whichshows that they don’t give up easily.
Mexico have showed lapses in concentration towards the end of their matches. They were lucky against Germany because the Europeans misfired. Against South Korea, they conceded very late, versus Sweden, they were exposed with three second half goals after a lapse in concentration left spaces in their defence.
The Brazilians are far from perfect. Their midfield is not too distinct from their attack. They have more attackers than midfielders so a good team who can dictate the pace in midfield will find it easy to exploit that weakness.
It is going to be a fantastic game between two good sides. The two teams have shown tactical discipline so far. Mexico have had to defend very well to protect their lead while Brazil have had to dig very deep to get a win in additional time. It will be a match of the side who wants it more and I expect a lot of tactical play from the two teams. They both have a good chance of winning it.
Mexico have no star player. They will play as a unit and if the Brazilians make the mistake of focusing on just one or two of them, the Mexicans can exploit the opportunity to beat them. But Hirving Lozano, who scored against Germany, and Javier Hernandez, will be crucial.
For Brazil, the match is another opportunity for Neymar to show what he can do. He has failed to live up to expectations but that could be as a result of the injury he is coming back from. But in his place,PhillipeCoutinho has been fantastic and carrying the team. However, the focus will still be on Neymar while Coutinho will also want to further impress.
Brazil will win either 1-0 or 2-1.