Preview: Brazil vs Mexico

Brazil will be looking to continue their steady improvement throughout the World Cup as they take on a dangerous Mexico side in a last 16 clash at the Samara Arena.

2018 FIFA World Cup
2 July 2018
Round of 16
Kick-off: 16h00 (GMT+2)
Venue: Samara Arena

Referee: G. Rocchi
Assistants: E. Di Liberatore, M. Tonolini
Fourth official: A. Mateu Lahoz

Previous encounter:

Brazil 2-0 Mexico (Friendly) 07/06/2015
Brazil goalscorers: Philippe Coutinho (28′), Diego Tardelli (37′)

Players to watch:

Philippe Coutinho was at his devastating best in Brazil’s 2-0 win over Serbia, providing the assist for Paulinho’s opener. Mexico will need to be wary of his defence-splitting passes, as well as the likes of Neymar and Gabriel Jesus, who will be looking to profit from them.

Javier Hernandez is expected to lead the line for Mexico. Having starred for the likes of Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen and Real Madrid, he is used to playing with and against the very best. Currently at West Ham United, Hernandez still has goals in him, as he proved by netting against South Korea. Brazil will need to keep their wits about them to stop him.

Team form and manager quotes:

Brazil started slowly with a 1-1 draw against Switzerland, followed by a 2-0 win over Costa Rica, which saw two late strikes. In their last group match, they looked more convincing, dominating Serbia from the first whistle to the last, with Paulinho and Thiago Silva firing them to victory.

Nevertheless, Selecao coach Tite is remaining grounded. He knows there is plenty of expectation in Brazil and appears to be doing his best to take pressure of his players.

“Expectations? We don’t live by expectations, we live by reality,” he told reporters. “(We live by) a team that mentally deals with the pressure, is balanced, that has replacement parts for important moments.”

Tite heaped praise on his last 16 opponents, claiming: “They are a strong rival that beat Germany and Korea and qualified at the expense of Germany. For us, the thing is to know Mexico inside out so we can outline our expectations.”

Meanwhile, Mexico boss Juan Carlos Osorio revealed an interesting claim he made to Tite during a previous conversation.

“At the draw, speaking with Tite, he asked me who I considered his best player,” he said at Friday’s press conference. “And I told him Coutinho, ahead of the rest.”

Explaining his claim, Osorio said: “No one doubts the talent that Brazil have in attack, with Willian, Douglas Costa, Neymar… but I think Coutinho makes the difference because he’s a player that can play anywhere in midfield or further forward.

“He is a player we will have to watch out for and he’s really important to Brazil’s game.”

After beating Germany 1-0 and South Korea 2-1, Mexico slumped to a 3-0 defeat to Sweden in their last game. They will be looking to bounce back in the best possible way.

Team news:

Mexico will have to nullify Brazil’s attacking threat without centre-back Hector Moreno as he serves his suspension.

Several players head into the match one booking away from being suspended for the quarter-finals. Mexico’s Hector Herrera, Miguel Layun and Jesus Gallardo, and Brazil’s Neymar, Casemiro and Coutinho will all have to be on their best behaviour.