Brazil take on Mexico in the Round of 16 phase of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. We take a look at a few key battles that might decide the game.
Brazil are in for a test in the Round of 16 phase as they face familiar foes in fellow Latin American side Mexico. While Brazil failed to look the part despite topping the group, Mexico were impressive right up until their last group stage match against Sweden.
Juan Carlos Osorio will hope the result is just a minor blip while Tite would be spurring his side on to emulate more of the attacking rhythm they showed against Serbia.
We take a look at a couple of key battles that might end up deciding the outcome.
Hirving Lozano vs Fagner
A player who has managed to capture the imagination of the onlookers in Russia. Lozano’s quality was never in doubt. But, the winger has managed to deliver at the biggest stage of them all. Not only was he the difference in their shock win over Germany, he contributed to the narrow win over South Korea with an assist.
Lozano’s pace is his biggest asset. But, the Mexican has managed to add other layers to his game, layers that make him a complete quantity.
Fagner, on the other hand, capitalised on the opportunity that arose from Danilo’s injury. The player looked the part against Costa Rica and Serbia. Subsequently, there have been calls from almost every fan to retain the Corinthians star over Danilo, even if the Manchester City star manages to be fit in time for the Round of 16 match.
Both Fagner and Hirving Lozano do not boast of highlights at the club level just yet, with neither plying their trade for a giant. But, their displays could see them being snapped up by one at the end of the World Cup.
What is even more imperative is the road ahead in Russia. Both Brazil and Mexico will want to advance for their own reasons. Fagner will be tasked with keeping Lozano in check, which will be a tough assignment for the 29-year-old. A lot will depend on who comes out on top here.
Neymar vs Guillermo Ochoa
One of the mercurial stars of the footballing world goes up against a goalkeeper who kept the mighty Germans at bay and is known for his shot-stopping ability. Neymar has been kept quiet by the teams he has faced so far. Coutinho has been the man to spur Brazil on to the top spot in Group E.
But, the PSG star should rise to the occasion and we should expect Neymar to be the focal point of most Brazilian buildups. Ochoa though, will be the last line of defence for Mexico and will be eager to prove he can do what he did against Germany on a more consistent basis.
Mexico have failed to go past the Round of 16 stage of the World Cup in their last six attempts. Goalkeepers have been the heroes in the Round of 16 so far. A brilliant performance here could see Ochoa write his name in the history books for Mexico, or at least etch a place in many hearts.