Coming off a frustrating draw, host-nation Brazil can get its attack back on track against an already-eliminated and disjointed Cameroon in the closing Group A match at Nacional in Brasilia.
Fittingly taking place in the nation’s capital, Selecao require more goals to put a chokehold on the rest of the group and assure advancement to the knockout stages, while Indomitable Lions will miss their best defender in Alex Song following his red-card worthy punch in the 4-0 loss to Croatia.
Following their thrilling 3-1 triumph over Bosnia, Neymar and company ran into the impenetrable wall of Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoa, who registered six saves. Five offside calls also neutered the typically unstoppable Brazilian attack, but a repeat of that performance appears highly unlikely against Cameroon.
Even before their arrival in Brazil, Cameroon appeared out of sync and unfocused on the task at hand. Players reportedly refused to board the team’s flight to Brazil over on-going disputes regarding bonus payments. Eventually the country’s football federation took out a private loan to award the players $12,000 more, and it evidently set the mood for Cameroon’s World Cup.
Unfortunately for Cameroon, 2014 feels much like a repeat of 2010 in South Africa, when a reported rift between Eto’o and Song divided the team and led to a fourth-straight group-stage exit.
During the Croatia drubbing, Cameroon’s Benoit Assou-Ekotto head butted teammate Benjamin Moukandjo after Song let his emotions get the better of him and star striker Samuel Eto’o was on the sidelines with a knee injury. Initially ruled out for 10 days, there has been some speculation that the 33-year-old with 118 career caps and 56 goals could miss the Cameroon’s final match.
Song apologized for nailing Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic in the back, but his timing couldn’t have been worse for Cameroon to play with a man down. At that moment they faced a one-goal deficit and could have staged a comeback for a draw and kept the knockout stage as a possibility.
With Song out, head coach Volker Finke faces a difficult choice of either plugging a huge defensive hole or adding more to the attack against Brazil.
Dany Nounkeu came on for Aurelien Chedjou at the start of the second half for his 18 th international appearance, but he proved ineffective with Croatia going-off with three more goals. Instead, 31-year-old midfielder Jean Makoun could be a more suitable replacement, counting his 66 appearances and five goals.
It will be the 100th all-time World Cup appearance for Brazil, but they run the risk of losing their claim as the highest scoring country in the tournament’s history. Since 1950 no country has scored more goals than Brazil, who now claims 213. But Germany is in striking distance after the 4-0 demolition of Portugal upped their total to 210.
Start Time: Monday, 4 p.m.
TV Channel: ESPN2
Live Online Stream: A live online stream is available at Watch ESPN here
Betting Odds: (bovada.lv)
Over/Under: 3.5 goals
Prediction: Brazil 4-1 Cameroon