Brazil v Mexico: Improving Seleção can book quarter-final spot

Brazil's Thiago Silva
Thiago Silva has been dominant at the back for Brazil
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Jack Lang expects Tite's men to see off El Tri in Samara on Monday afternoon...

"Brazil have never lost to Mexico at the World Cup (W3 D1), and in fact have never even conceded a goal, so it's no great surprise that the South Americans are favourites to triumph"

Brazil v Mexico
Monday, 15:00
Live on ITV

Seleção growing in confidence

They haven't set the world alight so far, but pre-tournament and current World Cup favourites Brazil are very much growing in stature with each game. The defence looks solid, the team spirit is good and their star player, Neymar, has built up his fitness and looks to be clicking into top gear at just the right time. A few question marks remain, but compared to some of the other big guns, the Seleção have made serene progress to this point.

The starting XI is likely to be the same as the one used against Costa Rica and Serbia, assuming that Marcelo is fit after a back spasm. The expectation is that the Real Madrid man will be available, although Filipe Luís is a top-class deputy if he doesn't make it. Elsewhere, Fagner should keep his spot despite Danilo's return to fitness, but Douglas Costa is still struggling after a muscle strain.

GSMondayNeymar600.png

Mexican cave

Everything was looking so rosy for Mexico after two games: the win over Germany was probably the performance of the group stage, and they had few problems seeing off South Korea. But just when they should have been easing into top spot, the wheels came off against Sweden, and instead of a winnable game against Switzerland, they now face Brazil. Hardly ideal.

The question now is whether they can put that 3-0 defeat out of their minds and start again, or whether it will cast a shadow over this game. Certainly, Juan Carlos Osorio has the tactical nous and the personnel to make a game of this, but confidence is a fragile thing in football and you wonder whether El Tri's dreams of a 'quinto partido' (a fifth game, or quarter-final spot) may just go up in smoke for the umpteenth time.

Brazil the favourites

Brazil have never lost to Mexico at the World Cup (W3 D1), and in fact have never even conceded a goal, so it's no great surprise that the South Americans are [1.55] favourites to triumph inside 90 minutes. The Seleção have still only lost once under Tite - a friendly against Argentina after a long trip to Australia - and look to have the tools to trouble their opponents here.

Mexico looked so potent against Germany, although that game was not a great barometer given the state of the reigning champions' defence. Brazil's backline looks far more solid, and with Casemiro patrolling the space in front, chances for El Tri could be at a premium here. With that in mind, Brazil to win to nil at 11/8 is an option, as is Brazil -1.0 on the Asian handicap at [1.92].

Little Paul can have big impact

Paulinho scored against Serbia, with one of those trademark late runs into the area. That should really have been his second goal of the World Cup: he was denied by a brilliant Yann Sommer stop against Switzerland after pouncing on a loose ball. There's every reason to think he'll get a chance or two in Samara, and 4/1 represents decent value on the Sportsbook.

Jack Lang's World Cup P/L

Staked: 6pts
Returned: 3.5pts
P/L: -2.5pts

Opta stats

Brazil and Mexico have met 40 times previously, with over half of those encounters ending in wins for the Seleção (W23 D7 L10). A Brazil win is [1.55].

Mexico have won none of their four previous games against Brazil at the World Cup (D1 L3). In fact, the Mexicans haven’t even scored a single goal in those four matches (11 conceded). Brazil are [2.3] to win to nil.

Brazil last failed to reach the quarter-finals of the World Cup back in 1990. Since then, they’ve always made it to the last eight of the tournament. They are [1.25] to make it to the last eight of the tournament.

Brazil will be looking to win their third game in a row at the World Cup which hasn’t happened since the 2006 edition. They are [2.32] to win half-time/full-time.

Brazil are unbeaten in their last 14 games (W10 D4), with their last defeat dating back to June 2017 against Argentina (0-1). The draw is [4.2].

Mexico have been knocked out in the round of 16 in each of their last six World Cup appearances. In fact, they’ve never progressed further than the second round when playing a World Cup outside their own borders. Mexico are [4.8] to pull off a shock by making the quarter-finals.

Mexico are the team with the most games played at the World Cup without ever winning the tournament: 56 games, 0 trophy. They are rated at [75.0] to win the World Cup.

Mexico faced five times more shots on target from their opponents than Brazil in the group stages (20 v 4). Over 2.5 goals is [2.12].

Philippe Coutinho has been directly involved in three of Brazil’s five goals at this year’s World Cup (2 goals, 1 assist). His first ever goal for the national team came against Mexico in June 2015 (2-0). Coutinho is [3.1] to score.

Mexico’s Javier Hernandez has only had one shot on target in 270 minutes at this year’s World Cup, although he did score from it (against South Korea). Hernandez is [4.0] to add to his tally.

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