By Sportswriter Paul Giblin SAMARA
Russia (Xinhua) -- World Cup favorites
Brazil continue their campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Samara
on Monday against a Mexican side which stated their campaign
brilliantly before coming dangerously close to elimination.
their best display of the tournament in beating Serbia 2-0 to
secure their place in the last 16, finding more connection
between midfield and attack than in previous games.
Much of that was due
to the contribution of Phillipe Coutinho, who has been Brazil’s
standout player despite Neymar’s attempts to grab the headlines.
Although he has
scored just one goal, Neymar has had 18 shots so far in the
World Cup and suffered 17 fouls, but has also been criticized
for selfishness on the ball and play-acting when he receives
challenges from rival players.
Neymar and Coutinho
are certain to start and will be accompanied by Gabriel Jesus
and Willian, with the latter the subject of transfer speculation
linking him with a move from Chelsea to either Manchester United
or FC Barcelona.
Left back Marcelo is
an injury doubt for the game after suffering an injury
apparently caused by his hotel mattress and if he is unable to
play he would be replaced by Atletico Madrid’s Felipe Luis.
Brazil struggled for
fluidity in their opening two matches in Russia and will look to
the win over Serbia as a turning point to their campaign and a
confidence boost, however, will have to be wary of their
disciplinary record with key trio Neymar, Coutinho and Casemiro
a booking away from suspension.
Mexico travel to
Samara after excellent performances against Germany and South
Korea and a disastrous 90 minutes against Sweden which nearly
cost them a place in the last 16.
It will be
interesting to see how coach Juan Carlos Osorio reacts after the
3-0 defeat to the Swedes and if he believes tiredness as a
factor we can expect to see changes in his starting 11, with
perhaps Jonathan Dos Santos coming into midfield and Hugo Ayala,
who played against Germany, coming in to shore up the defense.
Brazil and Mexico
are two of the countries who have the biggest number of fans
with them in Brazil, and the stands in the 44,900 Samara Arena
should be packed with color in what promises to a true ‘football