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Mexico 1-0 Cameroon

Hard fought win in difficult conditions for Mexico, although there task would have been made easier had the linesman done his job properly.

Oribe Peralta Mexico

Date: June 13, 2014

Result: Mexico 1-0 Cameroon

Goalscorers:

Mexico

  • Peralta 61

Venue: The Arena das Dunas, Natal

Attendance: 39,216

Match overview: Mexico have lost more games than any other team at World Cup Finals (24). Since reaching the quarter-finals in 1990, Cameroon have only won one of their last 13 World Cup games (1-0 v Saudi Arabia in 2002), drawing four and losing eight.

Key moment: The linesman’s decision to disallow two legitimate Mexico goals meant that Miguel Herrera’s side had to struggle harder for the win than they otherwise might have done.

Man of the match: Oribe Perlata In a match high on controversy but low on quality, Peralta’s eye for a goal stood out.

Stats:
Goal attempts

  • Mexico 9
  • Cameroon 10

On target

  • Mexico 5
  • Cameroon 4

Corners

  • Mexico 2
  • Cameroon 5

Matter of fact: That’s 9 goals in his last 7 competitive matches for Oribe Peralta No wonder Herrera substituted him midway through the second half – his goals will be crucial if Mexico are to advance.

Talking point: Cameroon rarely threatened, and on this form look likely to repeat their performance in South Africa in 2010 when they and lost all three matches.

Line-ups:

Mexico:

  • 13 Ochoa
  • 22 Aguilar
  • 07 Layún
  • 15 Moreno
  • 04 Márquez
  • 02 Rodríguez
  • 06 Herrera (Salcido – 92′ )
  • 23 Vázquez
  • 10 dos Santos
  • 19 Peralta (Hernández – 74′ )
  • 18 Guardado (Fabián – 69′ )

Cameroon:

  • 16 Itandje
  • 04 Djeugoue (Nounkeu – 45′)
  • 02 Assou-Ekotto
  • 06 Song (Webó – 79′ )
  • 03 N’Koulou
  • 14 Chedjou
  • 08 Moukandjo
  • 17 Mbia
  • 09 Eto’o
  • 18 Enoh
  • 13 Choupo-Moting

Goals:

Mexico:

  • Peralta 61.

Yellow cards:

Mexico:

Cameroon:

  • Nounkeu 77

Referee: Wilmar Rodian (Columbia)

Spain v Holland preview

The first match in Group B is a repeat of the 2010 final as holders Spain face Holland.

spain-2010

13 June 2014

Spain v HollandArena Fonte Nova, Salvador, 20:00 (BST).

Introduction

Holders Spain start their defence of the World Cup against the Netherlands at the Arena Fonte Nova in a repeat of the 2010 final.

No European side has won a World Cup in South America and some critics have suggested Spain, four years on from that triumph in South Africa are a team in decline.

Inevitably, coach Vicente Del Bosque disagreed with that theory, saying: “We have a mature team and young players. We are not afraid of anything and we are in our prime.

“I don’t have any fear for the future either because we have an Under-21 team that are winning things and there are plenty of replacements that will ensure a bright future.”

“We cannot say it is a veterans’ squad. It is mature, a squad with depth, we have a few young players and a few who are 30 and a little over 30.”

There is certainly plenty of experience in the squad with several players in their 30s, including key figures such as Xavi, Xabi Alonso, Andres Iniesta and Iker Casillas.

The hunger remains as confirmed by Koke, who is set for his first major tournament, and believes the team are as ambitious as ever.

“Spain always have a winning mentality,” the Atlético Madrid player said. “We have kept the same philosophy, which is to go out and play with the same style that has characterised us for so many years – that’s how this group became winners.”

Spain have won their last six World Cup games, their best ever run in the tournament, while Del Bosque has only lost one of his 25 World Cup games as Spain head-coach, including qualifiers (W22 D2). It is a formidable record and when allied to their Euro 2012 triumph two years ago, it would be premature to write off Spain’s chances this time around.

As for Holland, they will look back on 2010 with mixed feelings. Reaching the final was quite an achievement, but in so doing, they abandoned many of the attacking traits that have characterised Dutch football over the last 40 years. And their thuggish approach in the final will have lost them a number of admirers.

Coach Louis Van Gaal refused to apologise for that uncompromising approach.

“Football can be a physical struggle, the referee is there to point out what the limits are,” he argued. “Personally I do not believe the Dutch crossed the line in 2010. If you have a different opinion then it is a shame.”

Under Van Gaal, Holland have been accused of abandoning ‘total football’, although they were the first team to qualify for Brazil 2014 and after a dismal Euro 2012 there has been a return of the swagger under his guidance.

Team news

New man Diego Costa is set to be available after declaring himself fit and fully recovered from the hamstring injury which dogged him in the final weeks of the season.

Van Gaal also has a concern over his star striker, Robin van Persie, but is confident the Manchester United man will be fit to lead his side’s attack – despite being withdrawn at half-time in the recent friendly win over Wales after complaining of a groin injury.

Tactics

Spain

Plenty of options for Del Bosque as he seeks control as well as creativity

Few national teams have a tactical or footballing identity as clear as Spain. “Tiki-taka” will once again be the approach, with Vicente del Bosque admitting in the midst of debates about Spain being “boring” at Euro2012 that he prefers not to allow the other team the ball to attack them. Spain’s style has an aesthetic quality as well as a practical one. It is about control as much as it is about creation.

Spain’s style is of course similar to that employed by Barcelona but la seleccion’s version is reinforced with two deep midfielders not just one: Sergio Busquets and Xabi Alonso will play together. In front of them, the wealth of technical midfielders is astonishing: Xavi, Santi Cazorla, David Silva, Juan Mata, Pedro

Increasingly, Spain have found that teams close up against them, defending very deep and looking to launch the very occasional counter-attack. The challenge then has been to find a way to change the game and open up spaces. Del Bosque’s preferred option from the bench is usually Jesus Navas. Meanwhile, from set plays both Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique are dangerous.

At the World Cup, Fernando Llorente was also used to great effect against Portugal, pushing them back and offering Spain a target, but it is not clear whether he will go to Brazil and the striking position has caused the greatest doubts – not least because Spain’s style makes it so hard for the no.9, denying him space in which to play. Llorente, Fernando Torres, Roberto Soldado, Alvaro Negredo, David Villa, and Michu have all been tried there and Spain have now “signed” Diego Costa.

Some hope Costa will provide the bite and nastiness that Spain need and he has been arguably La Liga’s outstanding player this season, but he too will find the space in which he is so lethal denied to him, as he saw in his debut against Italy.

Plan B?

An obvious switch would be to adopt a false no.9 again, just as they did at Euro 2012, when Cesc Fabregas played in the Final and created the first in a 4-0 win. Winger Navas is also a key second-half change if Spain need to stretch the game.

Holland

Van Gaal looks to youthful Oranje set-up 

Holland abandoned a traditional 4-3-3 system in favour of a 5-3-2 (or 3-5-2) system, but it is uncertain which players will be included in Van Gaal’s starting line-up, particularly in goal and midfield where he has several options and problems.

Ideally the coach would like to pick Kenneth Vermeer as his keeper, but as only a reserve at Ajax these days his lack of match practice would suggest that team-mate Jasper Cillessen will probably be first choice.

Ever since his days in charge at Ajax, Van Gaal prefers multifunctional players who can build attacks and are masters of the passing game. And it is also no surprise that he is keeping an eye on players coming through the youth ranks of the Dutch clubs and the defence options include promising youngsters such as Daryl Janmaat, Joel Veltman, Daley Blind and Bruno Martins Indi.

The absence of the injured Kevin Strootman is a major blow since Van Gaal has no decent replacement. It could also have consequences for the slowing Wesley Sneijder as the Roma midfielder was covering a lot of ground for him. Normally Van Gaal would opt for one defensive midfielder but he could now switch to
two in big games.

Although Van Gaal is known for his wilfulness he must have noticed that he needs powerhouses in midfield to prevent his team being blown away. Characters like Nigel De Jong and Leroy Fer would be suitable. However, his favourite is Blind, although placing his assistant’s son in midfield would leave a gap at left-back with the coach not convinced about his back-up options.

Up front, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben are definite starters and much will depend on their form and fitness if Holland are to play a decisive part in this World Cup. Jeremain Lens will probably also get a place, with Memphis Depay as a replacement on either flank.

Plan B?

Van Gaal never varies from the 4-3-3 template, but he could opt for two defensive midfielders against stronger opponents. Fer would come in for Sneijder in this scenario.

The hard-running Dirk Kuyt would also offer an alternative to Robben up front, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar a replacement for
Van Persie.

Teams

Spain: Casillas, Azpilicueta, Sergio Ramos, Pique, Jordi Alba, Alonso, Xavi, Busquets, Silva, Diego Costa, Iniesta. Subs: De Gea, Albiol, Javi Martinez, Juanfran, Villa, Torres, Fabregas, Pedro, Mata, Koke, Cazorla, Reina.

Holland: Cillessen, Janmaat, Vlaar, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind, de Guzman, Sneijder, De Jong, van Persie, Robben. Subs: Vorm, Verhaegh, Veltman, Kongolo, Kuyt, Clasie, Lens, Fer, Huntelaar, Wijnaldum, Depay, Krul.

Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy).

Arjen Robben looks ahead to Holland vs Spain

Arjen Robben looks ahead to Holland's opening World Cup game against Spain - a repeat of the 2010 final.

Arjen Robben

That match, in 2010, is still a game that haunts the Dutch forward.

The Bayern winger was through one-on-one in Johannesburg with the score 0-0 but was denied by the outstretched leg of Spain’s Iker Casillas – Spain went on to win the game after extra-time thanks to Andres Iniesta’s goal.

Tonight, Robben aims to make amends.

World Cup 2014: Where they will stay – Spain

World champions Spain will be based at the Alfredo Gottardi 'Caju' training centre, a luxurious sports complex in the city of Curitiba which is home to Atletico Paranaense. The facilities include eight full-size football pitches, ...

World Cup 2014: Where they will stay – South Korea

South Korea will be based at the Bourbon Cataratas Convention & Spa Resort in the southern city of Foz do Iguacu.

One of Brazil’s top tourist destinations, the city stands on the borders of Paraguay and Argentina and is also close to the spectacular Iguacu Falls. The Koreans will train at the local Flamengo Esporte Club.

Their first match in Group H is against Russia in Cuiaba. They will have a one hour 25 minute flight and travel 875 miles.

The next match, against Algeria is a 555 mile flight to Porto Alegre, taking 45 minutes.

They finish the group against Belgium in Sao Paulo, a journey of just over an hour for the 642 miles.

World Cup 2014: Where they will stay – Croatia

Croatia will be based some 50 miles north of Salvador in the Bahia state.

Their coastal location is the Tivoli Eco Resort (Ecoresort) in Praia do Forte and they will use the newly built training centre at the same location.

Niko Kovac’s team play the opening game of the tournament against hosts Brazil in Sao Paulo, some 1,200 miles away and a one hour 50 minute flight from Salvador. Next up is the three hour 15 minute flight to the Amazon, travelling a distance of 2,866 miles to play Cameroon.

They finish off with the relatively short journey of 500 miles, a 50-minute flight up the coast to Recife to play Mexico.

Mexico v Cameroon preview

Looking ahead to the second game in Group A, Mexico vs Cameroon. The perennial underachievers against the late arrivals.

Cameroon

13 June 2014

Mexico v Cameroon, Arena das Nunas, Natal, 17:00 (BST).

Introduction

The second day of the 2014 World Cup kicks off at Natal’s Arena das Dunas as Mexico take on Cameroon in Group A.

This is only the second ever meeting between these two countries; Mexico won the first clash 1-0 in a friendly in 1993.

Mexico, perennial World Cup qualifiers who have never failed to make it out of the group stages in their previous five appearances at the finals, will be looking to get off to a winning start to maintain that proud record.

Their passage to reach this World Cup was no cakewalk, though, as they needed an Intercontinental play-off win over New Zealand to secure their place in Brazil.

Manager Miguel Herrera was appointed ahead of that tie, with Cameroon only his third competitive opponents since taking the job. Thus far, he has relied on homegrown talent, having previously picked sides consisting purely of home-grown players.

Given the size of the country and the depth of its football culture, it is fair to say that Mexico are one of the great underachievers in world football.

But, according to Herrera, that could be about to change.

“We’ll pleasantly surprise a lot of people,” said. “From the outset we have to visualise the idea we can reach the final.

“The history of our football doesn’t back up my words but we have a good team and a great infrastructure in Mexico. We just lack the mentality to set ourselves those goals.”

Cameroon arrived in Brazil later than scheduled as the players refused to travel following a row over bonus payments.

A compromise was eventually reached, and ahead of their opening Group A game, coach Volker Finke said he did not blame his players for making their demands.

“For me, you have to respect some things. You can’t judge people who do not have the same conditions as other people,” said the German.

“Here (in Africa) we have traditions, there are certain relationships with the football federation and the government. You have to respect certain ways.”

A quarter-final appearance at Italia 90 remains Cameroon’s best performance in the competition, but in the four World Cups since then, the Indomitable Lions have mustered just one win.

Four years after losing all their three group games in South Africa, Cameroon are looking for revenge.

“We’re coming here with a feeling of revenge, that’s for sure,” said Marseille defender Nicolas N’Koulou, one of 13 players in the current squad to have suffered the ignominy of 2010′s premature exit.

“We totally failed in 2010, but things are different now. We’re a cohesive group and have a good mix of experience with some younger players.

“We’re like a family. We’re in good spirits and determined to give it everything to make the nation proud.”

Team news

Herrera has left Manchester United forward Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez on the bench for Friday’s opener.

He has opted instead for Villarreal forward Guillermo Dos Santos and Oribe Peralta to start up front.

Injuries to midfielder Juan Carlos Medina and Luis Montes mean that Jose Vazquez and Hector Herrera will join Andres Guadardo in a creative midfield.

For Cameroon, Henri Bedimo may get the nod at left-back over Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Captain Samuel Eto’o will lead a three-pronged attack featuring Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Benjamin Moukandjo out wide.

Tactics

Mexico

Herrera puts his faith in wingbacks and Liga MX players 

Herrera has adopted the attacking line-up used by former national coach Ricardo La Volpe in Germany 2006 to such an extent that he often seems to overlook the team’s stars in favour of those players that have already played under him at club level and who know his 5-3-2 system.

In Herrera’s system the wingbacks play a big role and they are in charge of generating the side’s attacking thrust with well-timed forward runs. There’s only room for one anchorman and the other two midfielders are used more in box-to-box roles, recovering possession and offering support for the wide players. Of the two strikers, one usually operates as a pure centre-forward while the other takes up a more withdrawn position. The pair can, however, swap roles during the game.

It’s a very attack-minded system in which all the players have to be confident with the ball, but it is also one that can be very risky as up to seven players can be in the opposing side at the same time, leaving the anchorman and the three central defenders very exposed at the back.

Herrera has stated that he’s prepared to change his set-up if the need arises, but from what has been seen in this year’s friendlies that doesn’t seem to be the case. It’s safe to assume that Mexico’s games in Brazil will feature plenty of goals, although it remains to be seen how many of them will be scored by “El Tri”.

It seems that Herrera may well stick to his guns and use mostly local Liga MX players in his starting XI, with the only exceptions being Espanyol’s Hector Moreno and Porto pair Diego Reyes and Hector Herrera.

While there doesn’t seem to be a place in the starting line-up for talented players such as Giovani Dos Santos, the finals will give left-back Miguel Layun, box-to-box midfielder Carlos Pena and striker Oribe Peralta the chance to shine on the world stage.

Plan B?

While Herrera is unlikely to be swayed from his 5-3-2 set-up, he could change the personnel. The most likely scenario will be to accommodate both Dos Santos and Peralta up front.

Cameroon

Eto’o, the main man, will call all the shots

During his 16 years in charge of German over-achievers Freiburg, “Indomitable Lions” coach Volker Finke was nothing less than a progressive, an advocate of free-flowing attacking football, who could not cram enough technically-gifted, intelligent and flexible players into his midfield and attack. But with precious few Cameroon professionals fitting that bill, he has had to proceed differently, forgetting the invention and interplay and instead packing the engine room with athleticism, fighting spirit and punch.
While Alexandre Song and Enoh Eyong make for a first-class pair of midfield holders – with Eyong taking on the stay-at-home role and Song pushing on far more frequently – the composition of the attacking midfield three remains a source of concern. Although Benjamin Moukandjo on the left is a bright, lively and elusive customer, his right-sided counterpart, Vincent Aboubakar is happier working through the centre and Jean Makoun clearly is more enforcer than playmaker; a driving force rather than tempo-setter or distribution hub.

Despite occasionally being shifted out to the right, team standard bearer Samuel Eto’o is likely to spend his swansong tournament in his natural line-leading habitat.

Plan B?

Should Cameroon go behind, Finke could well switch to a 4-3-3 face-saver, a template boasting Song, Makoun, Eyong or Joel Matip as the midfield three and Eto’o flanked by Aboubakar and Moukandjo. The experienced Achille Webo, the physically-imposing Mohamadou Idrissou and the elegant Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting will offer striking alternatives from the bench.

Up against hosts Brazil, CONCACAF heavyweights Mexico and a very capable Croat side, the Indomitable Lions undoubtedly are in one of the toughest first round pools and if Finke does fall victim to big-match nerves, a solution might be a 4-3-1-2, with a teak-tough trio of enforcers protecting the back four, Moukandjo in the “hole” and Eto’o and another forward up front.

Cameroon are more likely to be used to the Amazonian heat and humidity of Manaus than opponents Croatia, and this game could hold the key to their entire campaign.

Cameroon’s main asset Samuel Eto’o plays wide on the right for his country, but with a free role that is equally effective as it can be anonymous. Some past matches have seen him pop up with his customary sharpness in the penalty box to the benefit of Cameroon’s cause, while other games have seen him too far back in midfield trying frustratingly to get some time on the ball.

Frequent use of the flanks, with Benjamin Moukandjo wide on the left, will be one of the “Indomitable Lions” game plans. But they might also use Eto’o as a central striker, in which case Jean Makoun will come in on the right-hand side. With Idriss Carlos Kameni falling out of favour at the last World Cup, Cameroon have found a solid goalkeeper in former Liverpool reserve Charles Itandje.

Stephen Mbia and Enoh Eyong provide solid cover in defence, allowing Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting to support Eto’o.

Finke will have several players capable of putting together a strong pressing game, but his real concern will be the defence. An alternate plan with Eto’o would be to use Achille Webo and Choupo-Moting as an attacking pair, but this is unlikely to happen unless there are same behind-the-scenes turmoil of four years ago.

Teams

Mexico: Ochoa, Layun, Moreno, Marquez, Rodriguez, Aguilar, Guardado, Vazquez, Herrera, Giovani, Peralta. Subs: Corona, Salcido, Reyes, Fabian, Jimenez, Pulido, Hernandez, Ponce, Brizuela, Aquino, Pena, Talavera.

Cameroon: Itandje, Djeugoue, N’Koulou, Chedjou, Assou-Ekotto, Song, Mbia, Enoh, Moukandjo, Eto’o, Choupo-Moting. Subs: Feudjou, Nounkeu, Aboubakar, Makoun, Bedimo, Webo, Fabrice, Salli, Matip, Nyom, N’Djock.

Referee: Wilmar Roldan Perez (Colombia).

 

Oscar seals victory for Brazil

Oscar scores Brazil's third goal in added time with this toe-poke inside the near post to secure Brazil's 3-1 win against Croatia in the opening match of the World Cup. [embedded content]

World Cup images – Day 1

The best images from Brazil and the watching world at the opening day of the World Cup.

Protests mar opening World Cup game

Police charged protesters with batons and riot shields and fired rubber bullets and tear gas.

protests-brazil

Demonstrators push over a police car during a protest demanding better public services and against the money spent on the World Cup in Belo Horizonte

Some 200 protesters had gathered to demonstrate under the banner “Without Rights, There Won’t Be A World Cup,” which had been organized via Facebook.

Clashes were also witnessed in Rio de Janiero, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre and Brasilia.

Armed riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters in Sao Paulo just before the opening match of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.