On December 6th, the world watched as the draw was made for the FIFA World Cup. Mexico was drawn into a difficult group with Cameroon, Brazil (Host), and Croatia. However, at the end of the draw, Mexico looks to have the best chance to advance from their group as a CONCACAF representative. Moreover, Mexico’s group might be just the right balance of comfort and difficulty to make a run in 2014.
Currently ranked 59th in the FIFA rankings, Cameroon is Mexico’s first foe in the World Cup. Cameroon qualified fairly easily, but has had some suspect results in 2013. In the 2014 Africa cup of Nation’s qualification, Cameroon has lost to both the Congo and Gabon. It is hard to gage how powerful Cameroon will be but they will be lead by Samuel Eto’o. However, with a lack of marquee victories, Mexico shouldn’t feel overly intimated facing Cameroon, but also shouldn’t believe it will be a walk in the park.
Well…they are the dreaded top dog of the group. Mexico had been in Brazil’s group for the 2013 Confederations Cup and lost 0-2. Brazil would go on to win the Confederations Cup with a 3-0 victory over Spain. This will be a very difficult game for El Tri, but that doesn’t mean points are impossible. In their matchup in 2013, Brazil scored early and Mexico missed several opportunities to tie it up. Brazil’s second goal came on a defensive error and late in the game. Moreover, the Mexico side was at the time, in an ugly rut. A motivated Mexico can still fight for a positive result, and El Tri has had excellent matches against Brazil over the past few years. Brazil’s coach, Luiz Felipe Scolari, even called Brazil vs Mexico a “classico,” so expect a target on Mexico’s back. That being said, this should be the most anticipated match of Group A.
A Top-20 side, Croatia has a very talented team in this group. Being the final rival for Mexico in group play means that these two could be fighting for the second spot to advance. Lead by big names like Srna and Mandžukić, Croatia are a quality European side. Expect this match to be a very physical one, which means it could all come down to one goal. Croatia may even be favorited to advance in this group, but if Mexico catches its fire from 2011/12, the Croatians may have a lot to handle.
Mexico opens up their World Cup group play on June 13, 2014 against Cameroon.