At last, the biggest sporting event in the world opens today with Brazil facing off against Croatia in Sao Paulo in the opening match that will unite millions of locals together to cheer on the Selecao.
As much as we would all love to discuss the opening ceremony, the second match from Group A will be Mexico versus Cameroon in Natal.
Mexico will likely be using the same squad that lined up against Portugal last Friday with the only change being Guillermo Ochoa coming in for Jose de Jesus Corona, who many thought was the favorite to start.
Miguel Herrera will be looking to maintain possession of the ball throughout the match while Cameroon will surely look to take advantage of its opponent with their speed and physicality.
Apart from the goalkeeper drama, another controversial talking point leading up to this match was Herrera's decision to appoint Francisco "Maza" Rodriguez as the third center back over the young F.C. Porto defender Diego Reyes. This decision may be a costly one if Cameroon is able to capitalize on Mexico's two aging centerbacks in Rodriguez and the captain Rafael Marquez. The likes of Samuel Eto'o will be looking to be aggressive when in possession knowing very well Cameroon has pace on its side.
Mexico's best chance at victory will be to keep hold of the ball and for the wing backs, Miguel Layun and Paul Aguilar, to be in constant attack mode whipping in crosses from all areas of the field. Giovani Dos Santos must put the team on his back and have a strong showing if El Tri wishes to survive the group stage. With all respect to Oribe Peralta, he simply does not have the fortitude nor the skill set to be effective at the highest level of competition.
Another key area viewers should keep an eye on will be the play of Jose Juan Vazquez, who will be responsible for containing Cameroon's midfield. As many saw against Bosnia, if Herrera is keen on using his favored 5-3-2 formation, El Tri will struggle if Cameroon comes out with either a four- or five-man midfield.
El Tri must come out with a sense of urgency and must be the aggressor from the opening whistle. The more the match becomes scoreless the more it will play into the hands of the opponent, and look for Cameroon to put in some threatening counter attacks.
Keys for Mexico:
-Win the midfield battle
-Do not commit on defense
Keys for Cameroon:
-Stay compact and poised
-Speed kills. Don't hesitate to be physical
-Be disciplined in the defense
Mexico vs Cameroon will be aired on ESPN and Univision at 12pm noon/9 am pacific.