Neymar is set to resume his free role for Brazil after recovering from a knock to the back that prematurely ended his goal-scoring performance to kick-off the Confederations Cup on Saturday. The new Barcelona signing’s stunning strike after just three minutes against Japan eased the pressure on the Selecao from their demanding public and they went onto score twice more in the second half en route to a comfortable 3-0 win. The side’s improvement under Luiz Felipe Scolari will be expected to continue as they play in the first official match at the newly renovated Castelao Stadium in Fortaleza, in the north east of Brazil.
There are unlikely to be any changes to the Brazil side, despite Atletico Mineiro striker Jo coming on in Brasilia to net the third goal. But Fred’s linkup play led to the opener and he has been in good goal-scoring form for his country. Scolari is also likely to stick with Luiz Gustavo and Paulinho in midfield as he strives for the right balance between attack and defense. If Brazil can get the victory against Mexico, and likely secure their place in the semifinals, then Scolari could well experiment in the final Group A match against Italy.
It is a very different story for Mexico, which knows that a second-straight defeat is all-but certain to see them on the first flight home. While coach Juan Manuel de la Torre will want to avoid that fate, perhaps equally importantly, he will just want to see an upturn in performances. El Tri took their struggles in World Cup qualifying in their opening 2-1 defeat to Italy as they again looked toothless up front, despite the best efforts of Giovani dos Santos to add creativity behind lone striker Javier Hernandez.
Their defense also looked less than impressive with captain Francisco Rodriguez particularly exposed on more than one occasion. De la Torre has the option of brining in new Porto signing Diego Reyes, who was part of the side that got the better of Brazil in last year’s Olympic final. Another member of that victorious side, Hector Herrera could also come into add more thrust to the midfield. The Mexico coach’s pragmatic record suggests that he will stick with the status quo, however.
Mexico’s good record against Brazil extends beyond the 2012 Olympic final. Eight years ago today, El Tri beat Brazil 1-0 in the Confederations Cup in Germany to give them top spot in their group. And in the final of the competition in 1999, Mexico famously beat Brazil 4-3 at the Estadio Azteca. Scolari will also have bad memories of facing Mexico having suffered defeat at their hands in his first spell in charge of Brazil at the 2001 Copa America.
G: Julio Cesar
D: Dani Alves, Thiago Silva, David Luiz, Marcelo
M: Paulinho, Luiz Gustavo
Hulk, Neymar, Oscar
D: Flores, Rodriguez, Moreno, Salcido
M: Zavala, Torrado
Aquino, Dos Santos, Guardado
Where to watch: The Confederations Cup Group A contest will kick-off at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on Watch ESPN.