2014 FIFA World Cup Group A
Mexico vs Cameroon
Arena das Dunas, Natal, Brazil
Friday, June 13, 2014, 12:00 pm Eastern, TV: ESPN2, Univision
Money Line: Cameroon +265 / Mexico +125 / Draw +215
Point Spread: Mexico -0.5 +125 / Cameroon +0.5 -145
Total: Under 2 -120 / Over 2 Even
All odds courtesy of Bookmaker
Brazil opened the World Cup and Group A with a 3-1 win Thursday over Croatia in Sao Paulo. The other two teams in Group A get underway Friday as Mexico takes on Cameroon in Natal. With Brazil grabbing the full 3 points, it is important for these teams to at least get a draw to get the one point. Of course, both teams would prefer to win outright.
Mexico and Cameroon have met only once in history, as Mexico took a 1-0 win in a friendly in 1993.
Mexico is making their 15th appearance in the World Cup. Mexico is currently #19 in the world rankings. Mexico has lost in the round of 16 in five straight World Cups, including to Argentina in 2006 and 2010.
However, it was not easy for Mexico to get to Brazil. Mexico won the gold medal at the 2012 Olympics in London, and looked like they would cruise to qualify in a relatively weak CONCACAF federation. El Tri struggled to score though, and were even losing or drawing games in Estadio Azteca in Mexico City were they had been nearly invincible. Mexico won only 2 games in the 10 final group games.
Mexico found themselves on the verge of not even qualifying for the Cup as they were in fourth place in the group heading into the final day of qualifying. Mexico lost at Costa Rica that day and Panama was up 2-1 on the USA in a meaningless game for the Americans as they had already clinched the top spot in the group. Panama would have passed Mexico with a win, but the United States scored two stoppage time goals to win 3-2 and keeping Mexico alive. The Mexicans still had to beat New Zealand in a two leg playoff to qualify but Mexico beat the Kiwis easily.
The struggles in qualifying cost coach Jose Manuel de la Torre his job. Interim coach Victor Manuel Vucetich lasted two matches before he was dismissed as well. Miguel Herrera took over for the playoff against New Zealand and will coach the team in Brazil. Mexico has gone 2-2-2 in friendlies leading up to the World Cup, but Mexico has lost their last two games by 1-0 scores to fellow World Cup qualifiers Bosnia and Herzegovina and Portugal last Saturday.
Cameroon, managed by Volker Finke, is making their sixth trip to the World Cup since 1982. They advanced to the quarterfinals in 1990 but haven’t made it out of the group stage since then, including in 2010 in South Africa. Cameroon is currently #50 in the world rankings.
Cameroon qualified from Africa in a tough group with Libya, Congo DR, and Togo. Cameroon won the group with 13 points after Togo had a win overturned for using an ineligible player. Cameroon then beat Tunisia in a two leg playoff 4-1 on aggregate. Cameroon has gone 1-2-1 in friendlies, including a 2-2 draw to Germany earlier this month.
Herrera installed a 5-3-2 system for Mexico. Mexico will only start 4 players that started for them in the 2013 Confederations Cup last year. Guillermo Ochoa will start in goal in place of Jesus Corona, despite Mexico being the goalkeeper for the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal team. Star striker Javier “Chicarito” Hernandez will also come off the bench. Juan Carlos Medina and Luis Medina were supposed to start in the midfield but both will miss the tournament with injuries. Andrés Guardado, Héctor Herrera and the inexperienced José Juan Vázquez will man the midfield. Oribe Peralta and Giovani Dos Santos will anchor the front line. Rafael Marquez brings veteran leadership to the back line that struggled many times during qualifying
Cameroon uses a 4-3-3 system. Samuel Eto’o has long been the captain of Cameroon, and he moves to a true striker position. Wingers Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Benjamin Moukandjo will have to create plays in order for Cameroon to be successful. Nicolas N’Koulou and Joel Matip do a good job on the back line. Keeper Charles Itandje needs to be a little more consistent.
Everyone is counting out Cameroon in this group. While they are the lowest ranked team in the tournament, I think Cameroon can make some noise in this group. The Indomitable Lions have a good shot of at least stealing a point against Mexico, who looked good against a weak New Zealand team but struggled for most of 2013. Mexico is also battling some injuries to key players. I think it adds up to a 1-1 draw in this game.
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