World Cup Preview: Brazil vs Mexico – Recent Form, Team News, Predictions & More

Brazil and Mexico will face off on Monday afternoon in the ​World Cup round of 16 to battle it out for a place in the quarter finals.

​Brazil enter the match having won Group E after bouncing back from a draw in their opening fixture to with their final two group games. As for Mexico, they made a very promising start to the tournament having beaten both the reigning champions Germany and South Korea, however a loss in their final game meant they finished second in Group F.

Serbia v Brazil: Group E - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

One of the favourites to win the tournament comes face-to-face against one of the surprise packages, and the eyes of the world will be glued to their screens come Monday afternoon


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Heading into the tournament Brazil were labelled by many as favourites to win the competition, however after drawing 1-1 with Switzerland in their opening game and just about scraping by Costa Rica in their second match, many began to question whether this was possible.

​However after a solid 2-0 win over Serbia, Brazil’s campaign looks to be back on track and confidence in the camp is very high. Whilst Brazil had a fairly slow start but have since recovered, Mexico got off to the best possible start but have recently faltered.

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They beat the reigning champions Germany 1-0 in their opening game before securing an impressive 2-1 win over South Korea – but a 3-0 loss to Sweden in their final match meant that El Tri had to rely on South Korea at least holding Germany in order to progress. Thankfully for them, South Korea did just that, beating Germany 2-0.

World Cup Highlights


If the game was to be decided by the history of the teams on paper, it would be a landslide victory for Brazil. 

Brazil are the most successful team in World Cup history having won the competition five times in the years 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994 and most recently in 2002, and are bidding for a sixth title this year in Russia.

Brazil's team captain and defender Cafu

As for Mexico, they have never won the competition. They have reached the quarter finals twice – both during tournaments hosted in Mexico – yet have failed to go beyond that point. A win over Brazil this time around would take them through to a third quarter final, however the task of beating Seleção in the round of 16 is a lot easier said than done.


Team News

Brazil fans would’ve been holding their breath when Marcelo was ​forced off the pitch with a back injury just 10 minutes into their final group game against Serbia. Remarkably the team doctors reported that the cause of the injury was his hotel mattress, therefore he will likely be back for Monday’s game – so long as he gets a good night’s sleep.

Otherwise they will still be without Douglas Costa who continues to recover from a thigh injury and Danilo who is still suffering from a hip injury – meaning Fagner will likely keep his place at right back.

​As for Mexico, they have been very lucky so far with no injury problems hitting the team camp as of yet and will therefore have a full 23-man squad to select from. Their attacking trio of Hirving Lozano, Carlos Vela and Javier Hernandez started in all three group games, and it looks very likely that they will be the attacking trio to play against Brazil.

Predicted Lineups

Brazil (4-3-3): Alisson; Fagner, Silva, Miranda, Marcelo; Casemiro, Paulinho, Coutinho; Willian, Jesus, ​Neymar

Mexico (4-2-3-1): Ochoa; Alvarez, Salcedo, Moreno, Gallardo; Herrera, Guardado; Layun, Vela, Lozano; Hernandez

Prediction

Both sides will have reasons to be confident heading into the game and despite Mexico’s late wobble in the group stage, form will go out of the window as it becomes a win or go home match. Both sides will leave everything on the pitch, and whilst it will be a tight game with fine margins, Brazil should have a little too much quality for Mexico to handle.

Prediction: Brazil 3-1 Mexico

World Cup Preview: Belgium vs Japan – Recent Form, Team News, Previous Encounter & More

​Belgium will take on Japan on Monday in Rostov-on-Don in the last 16 of the ​FIFA World Cup, knowing that their likely reward for victory will be a quarter-final showdown with favourites Brazil, who face Germany’s conquerors Mexico in their last 16 clash.

Some might argue that Roberto Martinez’s side would have had a less challenging path through the draw if they had finished second in Group G. In that scenario, they would have faced a potential quarter-final against Switzerland or Sweden.

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On the other hand, by winning their group, the Red Devils avoided a daunting encounter with Colombia, who will face England instead. Nevertheless, the Samurai Blue should not be underestimated, having earned a shock win over the talented Colombians in their Group H opener.


Recent Form

If Belgium lose on Monday, it will be their first defeat in a competitive match since their shock 3-1 defeat to Wales in the quarter-final of the 2016 European Championship. The Belgians cruised to qualification, dropping just two points, scoring 43 goals and conceding six in ten matches.

The Red Devils continued to impress in their warm-up friendlies – including a 1-0 win over Japan. They also breezed through their World Cup group without breaking a sweat, hammering Panama 3-0 and Tunisia 5-2 before deservedly defeating England 1-0 to win the group.

Nevertheless, Belgium’s impressive run doesn’t (yet) include any major scalps, unless you count the Three Lions – and both Martinez and Gareth Southgate rested most of their first choice players for the final Group G clash.

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Japan failed to impress in their qualifying campaign, winning a weak group but dropping ten points in the process. They were also hammered 4-1 in the EAFF East Asian Cup by South Korea in December.

Japan’s 4-2 win over Paraguay in their final World Cup warm-up match was their first victory of 2018, after a draw and three defeats. They were likely as surprised as anyone else when they stunned Colombia 2-1 in their Group H opener. This shock result was followed by a battling 2-2 draw with Senegal.


Japan and Poland Revive the Spirit of the ‘Disgrace of Gijón’

Japan v Poland: Group H - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

The Samurai Blue only reached the last 16 because they had accrued fewer yellow cards than the Lions of Tarenga. Both sides finished on four points, as Japan slumped to an insipid 1-0 defeat against Poland – and Senegal lost by the same scoreline to Colombia.

While Japan deserve credit for reaching the last 16, they deserve none at all for the way in which they concluded their final group match against Poland. Late in the game, Japan were trailing 1-0 against the Poles – who were already out – when news filtered through that Colombia had taken the lead against Senegal.

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Knowing that they would progress if the scores stayed the same – and as long as they didn’t pick up any bookings – the Japanese just passed the ball around, with Poland quite content to let them do so.

This shockingly cynical approach evoked memories of the notorious match played out between West Germany and Austria in Spain in 1982 – a 1-0 win for the Germans in which both teams seemed to stop playing after an early goal had been scored. The result saw both sides progress at Algeria’s expense.


Team News

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Roberto Martinez has several players on yellow cards – most notably centre back Jan Vertonghen, right back Thomas Meunier and creative midfielder Kevin de Bruyne. If any of them picks up a second booking against Japan, they will be suspended for the quarter-final – assuming that Belgium win.

Japan forward Shinji Okazaki is carrying an ankle injury, but otherwise manager Akira Nishino has no injury concerns. However, like Martinez, he has three key players on yellow cards – goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima, captain Makoto Hasebe and star midfielder Takashi Inui.

Predicted Lineups:

Belgium (3-4-2-1): Thibaut Courtois; Toby Alderweireld, Dedryck Boyata, Jan Vertonghen; Thomas Meunier, Kevin de Bruyne, Axel Witsel, Yannick Carrasco; Dries Mertens, Eden Hazard; Romelu Lukaku.

Japan (4-2-3-1): Eiji Kawashima; Hiroki Sakai, Maya Yoshida, Gen Shoji, Yuto Nagatomo; Makoto Hasebe, Gaku Shibasaki, Genki Haraguchi, Yoshinori Muto, Takashi Inui; Yuya Osako.


Previous Encounter: Group Stage, World Cup 2002

Japan held Belgium to a thrilling 2-2 draw in 2002 – though the current Belgian side are a very different proposition from the 2002 side, and Japan were the co-hosts in that year.

After a goalless first half, Belgium captain Marc Wilmots gave his side the lead in the 57th minute with a brilliant overhead kick – only for Japan to equalise just two minutes later, as Takayuki Suzuki capitalised on a misjudgement by Jacky Peeters to prod the ball home.

Then, in the 69th minute, Junichi Inamoto scored a fantastic solo goal, beating Eric van Meir before firing home an unstoppable shot. However, Peter van der Heyden denied Japan a shock victory, beating the offside trap before deftly chipping the ball over goalkeeper Seigo Narazaki.


Predicted Result

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As mentioned earlier, Japan have done exceptionally well to get as far as they have. Defeating Colombia was an outstanding achievement, even though the Japanese played most of the match against ten men.

However, it would arguably be the biggest shock of the tournament so far – even more astonishing than Germany’s elimination – if the Japanese eliminated the side currently ranked third in the world by FIFA.

That said, Monday’s clash will likely be Belgium’s toughest test of the tournament so far. Still, it’s a test that they ought to pass.

Predicted Result: Belgium 2-0 Japan

Didier Deschamps Hails France’s Character After 4-3 Win Against Argentina to Reach Quarter Finals

​Didier Deschamps hailed France’s character after ​they overcame Argentina 4-3 in the last 16 to book their place in the quarter finals of the ​World Cup.

In one of the most entertaining games of the tournament so far, it was all square at half time 

after Angel Di Maria cancelled out Antoine Griezmann’s penalty, before Gabriel Mercado’s goal shortly after the restart gave Argentina the lead. 

That was until goals from Benjamin Pavard and a brace from ​Kylian Mbappe in the space of 11 minutes put Les Blues back in the ascendancy, with Sergio Aguero’s late header little more than consolation for La Albicseleste. 

Now reaching the last eight for the second successive World Cup, Deschamps admitted post-match his side’s mentality was the most impressive aspect of their performance, especially after going behind so early into the second half. 

As quoted by ​ESPN, he said: “We were up against a highly experienced Argentina team but we showed we were there and the team showed they had character. 

France v Argentina: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

“When we were 2-1 down it was not easy, but we kept fighting. The mentality in this group is excellent. As long as you have time, even if you have a highly experienced team in front of you, I know that the French team are ready to face it.”

Considered by many as one of the favourites to win in Russia, especially after their attacking display in their last 16 win, Deschamps acknowledged the emotions behind France’s win, as they now prepare for only their third World Cup quarter final since 1990.   

Speaking to TF1 (as quoted by ​ESPN), he stated: “It was emotional. I am very happy for the players and to have qualified. I feel happy.

“As I told the players before the match, they have been working towards this for months, they were ready for a game like that. They needed to answer, and the response was a strong one.”

The prize for beating 2014’s runners up in Kazan is a clash against Portugal’s conquerors Uruguay in Nizhny Novgorod on Friday, with a semi final place in the World Cup on offer for the winner. 

Fernando Santos Congratulates Uruguay as La Celeste Knock Portugal Out of the World Cup

Portugal manager Fernando Santos admitted he was ‘very sad’ to see his side knocked out of the World Cup but congratulated opponents Uruguay for their performance in the round of 16 tie.

Santos’ side dominated the match for large portions but were defeated by two excellent goals from Uruguay talisman Edinson Cavani either side of Pepe’s equaliser.

Uruguay v Portugal: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

Though the defeat represents a dark night for Portugal, Santos graciously accepted the defeat in his post-match comments (via ​Sports Mole).

​”First of all, congratulations to Uruguay,” said Santos after the match. “It’s very sad for Portugal, though. We know that the squares have been full back home and that the people there were really rooting for us.

“We could feel their presence with us and there’s a real sadness in the dressing room that we weren’t able to make it through for them. In football, there are no moral victories and I would have preferred to play worse and win the match.

“But I do feel that the second half was very good from us in terms of desire and our determination to score. We tried our best and we played a good game, I think. But you always want to win, and we lost, so well done to Uruguay for making it through.”

This defeat will come as a major disappointment to Portugal, who would have hoped for a better finish in the World Cup having entered the tournaments as reigning champions of Europe.

Uruguay v Portugal: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

However, they never really got going in the competition and were almost eliminated in the group stages after drawing with Spain and Iran.

Uruguay Boss Tabarez Praises His Side’s ‘Dedication’ as La Celeste Knock Portugal Out of World Cup

Uruguay manager Oscar Tabarez praised his side for their hard work and dedication as they managed to knock Portugal out of the World Cup and progress to the quarter-finals.

Portugal dominated much of the game but were defeated by two excellent goals from Uruguay striker Edinson Cavani, who gave an excellent performance in tandem with strike partner Luis Suarez.

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The tenacity of this Uruguay side certainly impressed their manager, which he made clear in his post-match comments (via ​FourFourTwo).

​”The distinctive feature of the game was the dedication the players showed on the pitch, and that is the way that we see football,” said Tabarez.

Uruguay v Portugal: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia

“It was difficult. Portugal had more possession and were often in our half of the pitch, and it would have been better for us to have more of the ball and play the game closer to their goal. 

“But we have a very strong team in terms of our mindset and I am very happy,”

Tabarez also acknowledged his side will be facing a difficult challenge in tackling France in the next round, but insisted his squad have what it takes to go all the way in this World Cup.

“We know that France will be very tough indeed. They have two exceptional strikers, Griezmann and Mbappe – they’re very fast indeed,” Tabarez admitted to the press (via ​Sports Mole). And you can see how [Argentina] defenders struggled to keep up with Mbappe today.

“It will be very difficult for us. But we will try our best and look to impose our way of playing on them, using our strengths. We’re here to play all seven matches, right up until the final, and we will see what happens.”